Question about layering bulbs from a first time gardner

lma84April 19, 2013

Hello gardeners!

This spring I started my first flower garden by planting some (already bloomed) tulips, daffodils, and Stargazer oriental lilies. They were wonderful while they lasted...

I have been reading about layering bulbs and was thinking about giving it a shot this fall. I live in zone 7B (upstate SC) and found many types of bulbs that will survive the winter here. I was hoping there were folks out there who can share their experience with layering. Does it work? Are there downsides? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

I found the technique on this website to be very interesting:

Should I follow this website's instructions? I know I am going to make mistakes but I would love to make this work.

Thank you in advance!

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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

I do it all the time. Depends on where you plant though but for a bed or pot it's the same. The only problem with layering in a pot is that while the stems are dying down on an earlier blooming variety the dying leaves get in the way of the later blooming variety - unless you want to treat the bulbs as annuals. For a bed you plant the later bloomers toward the front of the bed so that the dying foliage of the earlier bloomers don't get in the way and spoil the effect. I do that with King Alfred Daffodils, and then later Poeticas bloom. Underneath it all blooms Muscaria. I do the same with early and late tulips, with Muscaria blooming under the early bloomers and Forget Me Nots blooming under the late. Crocus works well as an early bloomer because the leaves die back fairly quickly and are pretty nondescript. Why don't you try it on a small scale and see if you like it.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 1:59AM
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Thanks for the advice!

Can you clarify something for me? What do you mean "plant the later bloomers towards the front of the bed"? I was under the impression I need to plant bulbs on top of one another.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:54AM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

Yes you do plant them on top of one another but you also put the bulbs that bloom later in the season towards the front of the bed otherwise the dying foliage of the earlier bulbs will ruin the display. Or you can make sure that all the bulbs you plant bloom at the same time - early with early and late with late. It should say on the description of the bulbs. Some online or catalogue sellers give that information for just that reason - so that you have things displaying at the same time. But, if you are going to mix bulbs, say early tulips with late tulips, be sure to plant the late in the front of the early otherwise you'll see that problem I mentioned. For example, I had a large bed against a rock wall, approx 20' long and 4' wide. Near the rocks itself, I planted the large King Alfred type daffs. In front of them I planted Poeticas Daffs, and in front of them I planted Hostas. First to show are the King Alfreds (end of April to about mid May), then the Poeticas (mid May to mid June) then the foliage of the Hostas eventually hides all the browning foliage. Unless someone is right on top of the rock garden, no one would ever see the dying foliage. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 2:04PM
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That helps a lot. Thank you!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:19PM
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A follow-up question for this thread:

How do I divide bulbs that are layered? How often will I need to divide bulbs? I read that they won't need dividing for 2-5 years.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 11:53PM
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