Beautiful carpet of colorful tulipsOn this page I would like to give you some ideas on how to make a beautiful garden design with bulbs. It’s really easy, if you follow the table and tips below.

Step #1

Fist of all, have a look at the table below. For a beautiful garden it’s important to know flowers size and time of blossom. Colors are important too, but it’s totally up to you, what colors you will choose.

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Step #2

Decide, which combinations of bulbs you want to use before you buy them. These tips will help you with it:

Tip 1: Combine varieties to vary the height, color and dimension of your garden. Here are some successful combinations:

  1. Apeldoorn Tulips, Golden Ducat Daffodils, Muscari armeniacum.
  2. Lily Flowering Tulips – West Point, Red Shine, White Triumphator.
  3. Jeanne d’Arc Crocus, Iris Reticulata, Red Riding Hood Tulips.

Bulb flowers design in a park

Tip 2: Naturalize bulbs under and around trees. For example, yellow Daffodils under a white Birch tree, or blue Muscari under a Magnolia.

Pink tulips in the garden

Tip 3: Mix bulbs into groundcover plantings for color. Flowers blooming against bordering perennials brighten any landscape design.

Orange tulips in the garden

Tip 4: Interplant varieties within the same bed. Layer different bulb varieties according to their depth and height requirements.

  • Some bulb varieties can be used, varying the heights, to produce dimension. For example plant Greigh (like Golden West, Plaisir, Corsage) & Triumph Tulips together (Red Riding Hood & White Dream).
  • Different Bulb varieties will stagger the bloom time as well as vary the height, and/or color. For example, plant Tulip Red Emperor with Scilla Siberica.

Pink hyacinth flower

Step #3

As soon as your bulbs arrive or you bring them from a garden center, you will want to plan some design. These ideas will help you to:

Planting bulbs around treesIdea 1: Around Trees

Most suitable for alder, ash, birch, cherry/Japanese cherry, oak and fruit trees. Do not plant under evergreen trees.

What to plant:

  • Very Early Spring Bloom: Crocus, Eranthis, Chionodoza, Puchkinia.
  • Early Spring Bloom: Amemone blanda, Muscari, Scilla siberica, Trumpet or Cyclamineus Daffodils.
  • Mid Spring Bloom: Large-cupped or Double Daffodils
  • Late Spring: Scilla campanulata

Bulb flowers on the table and around itIdea 2: Naturalizing bulbs under and around trees.

What to plant:

  • Very Early Spring Bloom: Crocus, Eranthis, chionodoxa, Puschkinia
  • Early Spring Bloom: Amenoe blanda, Muscari, Scilla siberica, Trumpet or Cyclamineus Daffodils Kaufmanniana or Specie Tulips.
  • Mid Spring Bloom: Greigii Tulips, Large-cupped or Double Daffodils
  • Late spring Bloom: Scilla campannulata
  • Very Late Spring Bloom: Oxalis

Flower beds with tulipsIdea 3: Beds

What to plant:

  • Early Spring Bloom: Single Early, Double Early or Forsteriana Tulips, Hyacinths, Trumpet of Double Daffodils.
  • Mid Spring Bloom: Darwin Hybrid, Greigii or Triumph Tulips, Large-cupped or Double Daffodils.
  • Late Spring Bloom: Single Late or Lily Flowering Tulips.

Ground covered with tulipsIdea 3: Ground Cover

What to plant:

  • Very Early Spring Bloom: Single Early, Double Early, Fosteriana (like Red, White or Orange or Pink Emperor Tulips), or Kaufmanniana Tulips, Hyacinths, Trumpet Daffodils.
  • Mid Spring: Darwin Hybrid, Triumph, Greigii or Double Late Tulips, Large-cupped Daffodils.
  • Late Spring: Single Late Tulips, Scilla campanulata.

Idea 4: Borders

Almost all varieties can be used in borders. Keep attention on flowering heights, and intersperse bulbs with perennials. See our Size/Spacing chart. Early spring blooms will camouflage the unsightly foliage of the dying bulb leaves.

Step #4

Make sure that you follow all the planting rules and they are:

Orange tulipsSoil and placement:

As a general rule, prepare your soil to a depth of 12″. This should insure for good drainage and allow room for correction of acidity levels.

Proper drainage can be achieved by mixing the existing soil with any type of organic matter. Humus is always a safe addition to any soil.

Acidity levels of 6 – 6.5 provide the best environments and can be maintained by adding lime for low pH’s (acidity) or peat for high alkaline sites.

Place bulb in the prepared area according to their spacing and depth requirements (See Size/Spacing Chart) . Cover with soil and water thoroughly.

Blue grape HyacinthClimate:

Different regions of the country experience varying weather conditions. Spring-flowering bulbs are hardy and will do well in most climates.

For specific hardiness information, see the individual variety listing in the website which notes the exact USDA regional zones.

General tips are listed below for areas in the deep South and far North.

Northern Areas (USDA Zones 1-3):

  • Plant early (always before the frost sets in) and provide a protective cover (mulch, peat moss, etc.).
  • Choose sheltered sites that receive the warmest sun (southern exposures by walls, rocks or protected by other plantings).
  • Water immediately upon planting to start root growth. The more the bulbs take root, the more they can withstand the frost.

Southern Areas (USDA Zones 7-10):

  • Plant late. the soil need time to cool down (60°F or less).
  • Request and purchase pre-cooled bulbs. These will be given the required cold treatment needed for root development.
  • Choose sites that do not receive mid-day sun. Less sun means lower air and soil temperatures which leads to better bulb production and longer-lasting blooms.
  • Water bulbs immediately upon planting to start root development.

More about regional zones you can read here: Plant Hardiness Zone Maps

Yellow daffodils in the gardenArea size and space:

Suggested bulb placement, the standard spacing between bulbs, is listed in this guide and should be referenced when choosing bulbs. Reference is available with each bulb in this website to show the recommended distance apart per variety. These however are only a starting point. The exact number should vary depending upon:

Overall Desired Look: The overall look that you are trying to create, more bulbs, placed closer together, will result in a fuller effect, viewable from further away.

Area of Planting: The size of the total planting, the larger the site, the fewer bulbs needed. Some books publish the number of bulbs necessary for a 1 square foot area. Note however that as the site gets larger, the common ground between the “1 sq. ft.” areas multiply and result in fewer bulbs per square foot needed overall.

For your convenience, the below guidelines shows the recommended number of bulbs needed for a given area. Areas are listed for beds of over 100 square feet.

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Blue crocus flowers

Your landscape design with bulbs is limited only by your imagination. I’ve listed some suggestions below, but they are only the beginning – there’s an endless number of ideas and combinations you can create.

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