What to plant in tulip area of the garden

alberta_clipper(3a Alberta)March 29, 2006

Last fall I planted about 200 tulip bulbs in an area of my front yard. I do know that eventually the blossoms will have gone, and finally the foliage will die down. Do any of you plant annuals or seed flowers of any kind to take over the tulip area in mid-summer to autumn?

I'm thinking that the area where the tulips have been planted will look pretty boring and drab after the blossoms have gone.

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Nell Jean

My mother always planted Shirley poppy seed over her newly planted tulips. The poppies know when it's time to sprout in the spring. Other shallow rooted annuals and perennials will work as well.

I try to plan so that something else is coming onstage as bulbs fade away. It takes planning and orchestration to keep a continuous show. There is dying tulip foliage just out of sight at the top of this photo. Muscari is holding on and the floppy green in the middle is a Corn Poppy. Beyond the tulips are daylilies that will spread their leaves to hide the blank space where the tulip foliage goes away.

On the other side of the berm are crocosmia and poppies coming on to take the place of a large bed of daffodils, but right now it's all green. Elsewhere, bulbs are planted with many different annuals.
Nigella among hyacinths and daffodils will be replaced midsummer by melampodium. Larkspur and poppies among lilies will be followed by summer annuals for butterflies. You're limited only by the zone where you garden and the depth of the roots of plants you want to use.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2006 at 12:59PM
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My tulip beds are dependent on the zone and the exposure of my garden, so will not apply to many of you. My tulips go into refrigeration the first of September and are planted the first of December. They are planted under my rose bushes. By the middle of January they are up. Because of this I am forced to prune my roses the first half of January (early for this location) to be able to spray the roses with lime/sulfer which is not good for emerging tulip foliage.This year due to weather I could not prune early enough and so sprayed with copper instead. The tulips are died down and ready to dig by the last of April. Last year I planted Sweet William to replace the tulips. They had been started the summer before and kept potted through the winter and were coming into bloom when planted. This year I have Snapdragons from last summer ready to replace the tulips. I realize this routine leaves April with the dying foliage under the roses as the new foliage covers the roses. I accept this to be able to save most of my tulips to plant year after year. Al

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 9:45AM
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Nell Jean

Yours is as perfect a plan as I've seen, Al. There is never going to be a garden bed that has NO dying foliage except in those fantasy gardens in large parks where nothing has to mature or ripen and can be yanked out and replaced in a twinkling -- or before the gates open. The big places have greenhouses; I don't know about you, but I make do with an old kitchen trolley in and out of the tool shed and sunny east windows in a cool utility room while I wait for warm weather.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 4:34PM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

All of my garden beds are planted with bulbs and overplanted with a broad variety of perennials (and there is a large number to choose from in zone 3) - that's the best way to hide tulip foliage (though I still pull out some as it yellows), and provide both bloom and interesting foliage throughout the season. Don't limit yourself to annuals...unless you really prefer them for some reason.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 1:31AM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Well, perhaps to provide an example of what I mean, that may clarify my previous post, here are some pix of the same backyard area (from different angles) through the season. These are all perennials, but only a small sampling of what we can grow.
Crocus chrysanthus 'Advance' in mid-April:

The same area in tulip time;

A broader view:

A bit later:

Later in summer:

Getting towards late summer:

And wrapping it up with fall (again, looking towards that bed, from a different point, with new beds in foreground):

Hope that helps to provide some ideas, anyway.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 2:22AM
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Nell Jean

Abgardeneer, it looks as if you've dispelled any doubts about Clipper being able to make the garden colorful when the tulips go. You have some plants that I've only read about, and some of your summer plants bloom in February and March here. Yours is really a dramatic garden. I enjoyed your photos.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 7:50AM
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abgardeneer(Z3, Calgary)

Thanks for the comments, Nell!

I also meant to add that there is no need to limit overplanting to so-called "shallow-rooted" plants. It simply isn't necessary. In nature, bulbs grow in mixed cultures of grasses, perennials, annuals, low woody shrubs, etc. with various root depths - it all works.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 10:46AM
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Now I'm even more confused. I planted some given to me surprise bulbs last fall and have had them ID as Tulips. Well everything I've since been reading on-line says Tulips MUST be left completely DRY after blooming! I was all ready to go dig them up after they were done and plant elsewhere. So glad I read this thread! It sounds like this is not true and that I can keep them in a mixed bed :)


    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 1:17AM
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If I leave any tulips in the ground through the summer with the bed being watered on a drip system I never have a problem with them rotting. The soil is loose and drains well even with a winter like this where only 6 days in march were without rain. Al

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 10:37AM
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I planted tulips for the first time last fall in a bed that had previously only held summer annuals, like zinnias. This spring, after my early bloomers had started to fade, I planted some pansies and johnny-jump-ups around the foliage - it looks pretty nice. But now all of the blossoms are gone. I know I'm supposed to leave the foliage around for awhile so that the bulb can make its food for next year, but how long is awhile? (I've heard at least a couple of weeks after the bloom's gone.) The pretty green foliage doesn't bother me, but what about the big stem that held the flower - can I cut that right away?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 12:22PM
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