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The Secret to Massively Increased Blooms in Same Space! - Flower Bulb Layering

The Secret to Massively Increased Blooms in Same Space! - Flower Bulb Layering

Flower Bulb Layering for 2x - 4x the Blooms! 

Have you ever admired a photo in a magazine or catalog, planted the very same varieties recommended only to have your results turn out a bit less. . .  impressive than your inspiration? I am going to let you in on the secret to getting two to four times the amount of blooms from the same garden space - just like the magazines do! It's all about layering!

What is Flower Bulb Layering?

You can double, triple or even quadruple the number of blooms from the existing space in your garden! But there is no magic fertilizer that gets bulbs and plants to produce that much more. To double your blooms, you must double your planting.

And it is a sad fact that you only have so much space for your garden, whether it is planted in the ground, in containers, or a mix of both. Most gardeners cannot just add on more land - much as we often wish we could! 

When you plant flower bulbs, in the garden bed or in containers, it is always important to plant them at the correct depth for that variety. This ensures they have enough nutrients, support, root room to grow and bloom well and insulation from the varying temperatures throughout the year. But what about the soil above and below the bulbs? This is the garden space you already have that can be planted for more blooms!

Maximize your planting space with flower bulb layering and increase the blooms by 2x - 4x!

secrets of flower bulb layering for more blooms - whiskey barrel illustration

Flower Bulb Layering Like a Lasagna!

The Dutch refer to the layering of flower bulbs in their world renowned gardens as creating a "flower bulb lasagne" - the secret to enormous flower displays in limited space. The process is simple once you know it is safe to do. First, determine what types of bulbs you want to layer. The largest bulbs that should be planted the deepest go in first. Add a couple inches of soil, then plant the next sized bulbs at the next depth level. If you are planting three or four layers, just continue to add soil between the bulb layers as you go.

Planting Depth Chart for Popular Fall Planted Flower Bulbs

Chart showing proper planting depth of most popular fall planted flower bulbs

As roots and sprouting stems and leaves form, they naturally seek open spaces to grow through. The top growth will weave between the bulbs above to find the sunlight and open air above. While some plants will root into a flower bulb to steal its nutrients, there is no need for concern when using this method with different types of bulbs. Flowering bulbs play nicely with other bulbs, so all remain healthy and able to grow and bloom.

Soil Preparation for Flower Bulb Layering

Because you will have many more bulbs growing and using the same resources, it is important that you prepare the soil with care. Be sure to work the soil to the full depth of your planting, breaking up any dense clods and working in organic amendments like dried leaves, peat moss and rotted manure. Also work in bone meal and time-release fertilizer pellets to ensure the nutrition level of the soil is able to support so much blooming.

Coordinated or Sequential Blooming? 

layered flower bulbs tulip Pinocchio and anemone blanda blue 

Flower bulb layering will give you many more blooms per square foot of planting space, either in containers or in the garden bed. But should you aim for coordinated blooms, where all the varieties bloom at the same time? Or is sequential blooming better, where one layer comes into flower after another fades away? The choice is entirely up to you!

The image of the sassy red and white species tulip Pinocchio with anemone blanda blue demonstrates the gorgeous results of bulb layering with coordinated blooms. But sequential blooming can be just as effective. Try layering your daffodil bulbs with daylilies. The daffodils emerge first with their slim foliage and sunny spring blooms.

As the blooms fade, the foliage of the daylily comes through, disguising the fading daffodil, and producing loads of colorful blooms late spring through fall in the same spot. Although daylilies are perennials and not flower bulbs, they do not root into the bulbs to scavenge nutrients, so this powerful planting method is entirely safe. Daffodils and daylilies share common light and water requirements. Just select varieties that are hardy in your climate and provide fertilizing during the active growth and you will enjoy the spectacular blooms year after year!

Another great option for sequential bloom pairing is ixia and hardy (cranesbill) geraniums. The dainty blooms of the ixia sway above the lacy foliage of the hardy geranium for an enchanting display. This combo works for warm climates (zones 7-11) where the ixia are hardy.

layering oriental lily casa blanca with peony victoire dela marne and ornithogalum star of bethlehem

In cold climate gardens, plant a peony with Oriental lilies and ornithogalum Star of Bethlehem. The lilies appreciate the shade cast by the peony foliage on the soil where the bulb is planted, but will bloom well above the peony. The Star of Bethlehem is a first class weaver, and forms starry blooms around the bare "ankles" of the peony. This is a planting recipe for years and years of increasingly beauty and fragrance!

How to Select Varieties for Bulb Layering

Selecting varieties to layer in your planting is about much more than just "these two plants should look good together." It is vital to select varieties that are hardy in your climate and that share the same needs for sun exposure and watering. It just won't work to plant shade loving bulbs with those that need full sun. 

yellow eranthis winter aconite layered with white galanthus snowdrop flowers

Flower bulb layering works best when you select varieties based upon their natures, growth habits, hardiness ratings, and general bloom time. Some of them will bloom in succession while others will have bloom periods that overlap. Your goal is not to control the blooms and force them to begin blooming on the very same day, but rather to let nature take it's course and enjoy them as they unfurl. So choose from the combinations we have shown above, or go play with your own favorites and color schemes.

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secrets of flower bulb layering for 2-4 times the blooms

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  • Kathleen McCarthy