Best choice for planting over tulips? Vote!

elleni(4a)June 29, 2009

[x-posted to the MN Gardening forum]

I planted my "perennial" tulips quite deep last Fall. I am hopeful they will return next year. The leaves of the tulips have finally faded and I realize I need to plant something over top of them to help distract from the fading leaves and add some mid-season interest. I want to use something I already have and can split. My choices are: Bearded Irises, Lady's Mantle, Moonbeam Coreopsis or Yarrow. I guess could also use some Autumn Joy Sedum, but I hadn't planed on splitting any of those yet.

My tulip patches are separate from the rest of the garden beds, so it should be something that looks ok as an "island". The biggest patch is only 2' x 4'.

I wanted to put the irises in one of the spots, but a friend thought that would not be a good idea over tulips. I think the Lady's Mantle will crowd the tulip leaves before the get a chance to fade naturally. That same friend has some big hostas I could have, but I think they would do the same thing.

What do you all think?



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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

I would not plant anything over the top of the tulips. If the tulips were in clumps though, like little bouquets, you could then plant perennials around them.

I really don't even think any annuals would be good planted 'over' them as the annuals would likely need watering throughout the season, more than what nature would bring.

Something that might be all right though, would be annual cosmos. They come in a lot of different colors, and different heights, and once established a bit early in the season are pretty carefree.

I gave BF some cosmos to plant in a small bed around his light pole. I knew he would not water them much, if any after planting and mulching them, so they would have to fend for themselves. He said he hasn't watered them, but then again it has been an unusually wet spring this year.

Would plants in pots work for you maybe?


Here is a link that might be useful: Cosmos Produces Cosmic Beauty

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 1:51PM
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Thanks for your reply, Sue. The area I have is just a small circle under a Shepard's hook-- about 3 feet across, probably no bigger than your boyfriend's lamppost "bed". I know that I need something that will do well with little water. The Yarrow I have to spare currently lives in the middle of the lawn and is forced to survive between lawn mowings on water from Mother Nature. I think the Moonbeam Coreopsis would also do alright under those conditions. The Coreopsis is neater, but there is more Yarrow to fill in the space more quickly.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 9:33PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

The Coreopsis is neater, but there is more Yarrow to fill in the space more quickly.
I have yarrow, and it does spread quickly, but it is from a mass of underground runners. I think you might be putting your 'perennial' tulips at risk, by planting something with such an aggressive root system.

How about maybe a shepherds's hook, with a bird feeder hanging from it, and maybe a bird bath,(on the ground) and/ or an angel or a fairy? I like a little whimsy in the garden too, like maybe a concrete Santa, or even pink plastic flamingos.

How about a garden banner, which could be changed out with the different seasons/holidays. I'm guessing these areas are maybe 'out front' as opposed to being in 'the back'.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 8:02AM
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Hum, I kind of wondered about the runners. You are probably right... The spot is in the back yard. I'd rather plants than lawn ornaments. How about daylillies? I have several dwarf clumps that could use a new home.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 1:59PM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

I usually plant an annual over the perennialized tulips in my raised "gravel" bed (soil thinned & mulched with rough gravel). The tulips have returned well for six years now. I use something like portulaca from little 6 packs from my local nursery. They require little water in the summer and are easy to plant into the surface of the soil.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 10:00PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I second the vote for annuals to plant over a bed of tulips. The roots of annuals are usual shallow so don't interfere with the bulbs underneath them. Pick an annual that doesn't require too much watering, although some supplemental watering shouldn't hurt your tulips. If you want to plant perennials in your tulip bed, how about some low growing groundcover type such as Veronica 'Georgia Blue'? or one of the low geraniums such as G. sanguineum 'Elke' (pink) or cantabrigiense 'Westray' (purple-pink)?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:08AM
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Planting a mass tulip bed and going to be attempting planting some of the sterile Alyssum varieties over it. It can take the heat and full sun that the bed has, but won't have the moisture requirements that will rot the bulbs... I'll post my results later when this all happens, but my theory is that drought tolerant annuals are going to be the safest bet on planting over bulbs. Going to make an effort to plant them "between" bulbs (bulb locations marked with straws) but we'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:08PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

One of the good things about the annuals is that you can vary the look each year. A bit more expensive than perennials over the course of 5 years (when you should dig you tulips), but that is OK.

I do something like that in my front yard, I enjoy the look of neighbors as they pass and point! I go bold with color!


    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 4:30PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Old thread, but still a good topic!
Hybrid tulips might not be the best bet for a mass planting that you want to have a naturalize. They're very likely to get spotty after the first year with short and tall spots, missing blooms.... I like to stroll the perennial garden, dig holes in any of the open spots, dump 6-12 bulbs in, maybe check so they're pointing up (not that big a deal), and cover em up. If they like it good, if not... they always do well the first year regardless.
Sometimes I end up planting annuals over the same spot, sometimes new perennials, I try not to overthink it though. Soil quality shouldn't change much from here to there in a bed regardless of what's planted right above the bulb... unless you put something rooty like a daylily right over a bulb, then the bulb might struggle.
Even if a few bulbs take the second year off, you likely won't notice when they're in a clump.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 8:24PM
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