Plant in Layers for Long-Lasting Bulb Blooms
There are few other flowers that herald the seasons better than spring blooming bulbs. When the weather warms, these beautiful bloomers simply explode with candy-hued color and amazing forms. But all too often, our spring and summer bulbs are a one-and-done kind of project — they pop up, put on an incredible show, and they’re quickly done until the next season.
So, what do you do if you want just a little more? No one could blame you, after all. These are some of the showiest flowers around, and we’re not eager to say a premature goodbye. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to extend that bloom time, and they are easy — because who wants a too-difficult, no-fun garden project?
You can choose either one (or both!) of these methods. For more information on planting techniques, check out our companion article, The Secret to Massively Increased Blooms in Same Space! – Flower Bulb Layering.
You know what a bed of tulips looks like, and you know what a bed of iris looks like, as well as a field of muscari and a mass of anemone. But when you carefully choose your bulb types and coordinate their bloom time, you have an interplanted display that doubles or triples the number of flowers at the same time.
The trick is to choose bulbs that are expected to bloom during the same time period, like mid-spring, then layer them by planting them above and below one another according to each bulb type’s recommended planting depth. So, you could have large tulip bulbs planted the most deeply, with grape hyacinth planted above them in the same space, and they will grow and bloom at the same time.
While you already know that these bulbs bloom in the spring, what you may not know is that there are bulbs that bloom in the late winter/early spring, mid-spring, and late spring. And it doesn’t necessarily go by bulb type (as in “all tulips are mid-spring bloomers”) — there are all sorts of varieties that have widely different bloom times. So, by planting a variety of bulbs with different bloom times, you can have flowers from late winter through late spring, all in the same garden!
Start by making a master list of the flowering bulbs you like, then do a little research on when they bloom each spring or summer. Your goal is to choose late winter/early spring bloomers, mid-spring bloomers, late spring bloomers, early-mid-late summer bloomers, and fall bloomers — then plant them using the method described above (and detailed in the article we linked to earlier). Now you’ll have waves of blooming bulbs all season long.
Coordinated & Sequential
Who says you can’t do both? Not us! Plan your garden out so that you have several bulb types blooming at once all throughout the growing season. Yes, it’s a lot of bulbs, but think about it this way — when these bulbs grow and naturalize over the years, you will have a spectacular blooming bulb display that will knock your socks off. And the socks of anyone else who sees it.
Planting Tip: Always remember to keep growing requirements of sun, soil, and water in mind. While most flowering bulbs enjoy similar needs like full sun and well-drained soil, others prefer slightly shadier conditions and more irrigation.
Beautiful Bulb Buddies
So…which bulbs bloom best together? While there are endless combinations, some are more logical than others. For example, you wouldn’t want to plant tall tulips and large alliums in the same spot if they have the same bloom time — one will overtake the other, and the impact will be lost. Similarly, avoid planting tall bulbs in front of shorter ones, effectively blocking the short flowers from view.
Instead, aim to combine a taller blooming bulb with a shorter one to fill in bare spots, and bulbs with flowers that are different sizes as well. Here are a few winning combos to get you started (and to make it extra easy, we package them together for you, taking out all the guesswork).
This striking yellow and blue combo features tall, double yellow Monte Carlo tulips with shorter, Blue Jacket hyacinth to fill in the gaps. This is a mid-spring blooming combination that works equally well in containers and beds.
Looking for a nice smaller combo? Try Muscari Armeniacum and Anemone Blanda White for a high contrast, huge impact mid-spring planting.
How about a cheery yellow and white duo that shines in late winter? Bright white galanthus flowers arch over sunshine-y yellow eranthis, each one complementing the other perfectly.
This early summer pairing contrasts apricot with purple, globe flowers with spikes — a marriage made in garden heaven. Allium Purple Sensation with Eremurus Cleopatra might just be the drama you’re looking for.
- Katie Elzer-Peters