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