We all do it every spring…we lust after a gorgeous spring bulb garden, full of bright colors after a long gray winter… And every year we say, “Next spring I’m going to have a garden like that!” Well this is your year, because not only is TGG going to give you an easy to understand primer, we are going to show you exactly how to choose, buy and design with them this fall so that next spring your yard will be the envy of the block! The tutorial starts out with planning your design, then leads you right through to how to plant and then care for your bulbs.

 

 

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Planning Your Spring Bulb Garden

Unless you are planning to plant hundreds of bulbs in full public garden style (not recommended for the average gardener!) planning a spring bulb garden isn’t complicated. Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Choose just two or three types of bulbs to use in your yard. Using just a few of every pretty bulb out there will just leave your garden looking cluttered and lost, without the impact you are looking for. Use the same bulb in groups and drifts for the best design strategy.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Choose bulbs that bloom at the same time. Most bulbs bloom for just a few short weeks every spring, and to get the best effect, choose ones that bloom together. Bulbs are classified into early season, mid season and late season bloomers. If you want the most impressive spring bulb garden show, plan your bulb garden to either all bloom at once, or to have several different shows in each classification.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

For instance, you could choose a mid season tulip, daffodil and grape hyacinth and create a one time show with larger groups of those three bulbs. Or, you could create smaller shows of each an early season group, mid season group, and late season group so that something is always in bloom. There is no right answer, just depends on how much time and planning you wish to put into you bulb garden.

Here is an example of our favorite pairing of tulips with grape hyacinths. (Muscari). The grape hyacinths form a nice mat of grass like ground cover underneath the tulips, and set off pink, red, yellow or white! Grape hyacinths are small bulbs that are easy to plant en masse, as they only need to be planted an inch deep or so.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

These blue hyacinths put on a fragrant show of their own! (Not to be confused with grape hyacinths, above!)

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Plan cover ups. After bulbs finish blooming, their greenery withers, but you can’t cut them back yet if you plan on them returning the following year. Plant a ground cover or sprawling perennials around and through your bulb garden so that as the bulbs finish, they and other plants will be naturally growing over the stalks to cover and hide them.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Choose a color scheme for you bulb garden. Want gentle, sweet pastels, or bright and vibrant colors? Complementary colors grown together, such as red and blue, or yellow and blue are always show stoppers. A bulb garden looks best though when the color scheme is consistent.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

How to Choose Bulbs

Don’t buy discount bulbs for your spring bulb garden. Quality and health of your bulbs will make all the difference in both display, and their ability to return and multiply year after year. Here’s how to choose healthy bulbs.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

 

Buy from a trusted online source. Some that we use and depend on? Longfield Gardens, Brent and Becky’sDutch Bulbs,  White Flower Farm.

Another reliable choice is your local plant nursery – not your local home improvement store. If you want small flowers and a wimpy display, then you go ahead and buy those bulk bags at Walmart.

Choose bulbs that are smooth and free of defects.

Buy “top grade” bulbs. This refers to their size, and yes, size matters. If they aren’t marked top grade, they aren’t top grade!

bulbs garden

 

How to Plant Bulbs

Planting your bulbs in the fall is easy, but can be a bit backbreaking if you are doing a large number. Use these tips to make every aching muscle worth it come spring!

Limit the back problems by investing in a bulb planter if you are going to be doing more then a small number. This gives you much more leverage than using a trowel. If you are planting less than 20 bulbs, a trowel ought to handle the job.

Know how deep to plant your bulbs. A good rule of thumb is to plant the bulb as deep as two to three times the height of the bulb. Planting your bulbs too deep results in lack of bloom or rotting bulbs. Planting them too shallow and they will flop over in the first strong breeze and the bulbs themselves might dry out. Here is a chart on how deep to plant popular bulbs from ‘Right at Home‘.

 

Plant your bulbs with a handful of bone meal for good root growth.

Water in well, then wait for fall rains to take over until spring!

Finally, wait until mid – late fall to plant your bulbs, but before the ground freezes. If you live in an area with cold winters, find out from your local nursery if they have a recommendation for a different planting depth or time for your particular bulbs for your area – it can vary due to temperatures.

Bulb Crazy - Plan A Spring Bulb Garden Now

You can have that gorgeous spring bulb garden if you plan now, so take our advice, and start shopping now before the best bulbs are sold out! If you enjoyed this post, then learn about an easy show-stopping bulb you can plant, amazing Alliums! Or, learn about growing daffodils or how to force bulbs for holiday gifts.

Image Credits: Right at Home

 

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4 Comments

  1. Kathleen vicini January 3, 2014 at 9:55 am

    What to do if you did not get your bulbs in the ground before the first hard freeze and it is the first week of January?

    Reply
    1. Kathy Woodard January 14, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Kathleen,
      Unfortunately, even if you could get your bulbs in the ground now, they might not bloom being put in so late…most bulbs need a certain number of weeks of cold to bloom in spring… And the fact is, that your ground sounds pretty frozen anyway! You might still have time to force bulbs in containers… you can find info on how to do that at
      http://www.thegardenglove.com/how-to-force-spring-bulbs/

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  2. Karima September 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Oh my God, I love this post.

    Reply
  3. Joanna September 29, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Great tips, Kathy. Like you mentioned, I like to plant my bulbs (especially tulips) around daylilies, so the foliage of the daylily covers the ugly, fading bulb foliage. Happy gardening!

    Reply

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