bulbs in with perennials

linda888June 26, 2014

Hello, I am in the midst of creating perennial beds. Can I plant spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils, tulips, and crocuses (croci?) in with the perennials (4 months after the perennials have been planted)? I have a narrow bed with catmint around the edge, and in the middle I will put either knockout roses or daylilies. Can I put tulips in there also? When I plant the tulips in the fall can I plant them in between the catmints? Can I plant them close to the daylilies or knockouts? How close? I also have another area with peonies...can I put bulbs in front of them?


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You want to consider matching your spring flowering bulbs with perennials that will effectively disguise their ripening foliage as well as with perennials that will share similar growing conditions.

Most spring flowering bubs are summer dormant and prefer to be on the dry side during that period. So pick from the drought tolerant perennials to make your bulbs happy as well. Nepeta/catmint is a great choice - good at shielding ugly bulb foliage and very drought tolerant.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 5:47PM
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Ahhh...I didn't realize that the bulbs like to be on the dry side in the summer! What about peonies, coneflower, knockout roses, daisies and campanula?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 1:53PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Every so often you are going to have to dig out the bulbs to reduce the numbers and refresh the soil.

It will not be an easy job to fossick between the roses.

Daylilies have interesting and foraging roots. Just as they are coming into production the spring bulbs are 'going over' into dormancy - their best time for lifting. Which means upheaval for the ready to grow daylilies.

You could have a garden policy of planting your bulbs in company with, say polyanthus Primulas, or P malacoides then rip the whole lot out and put in summer bedding plants, after adding compost to the bed.

You could have a bed that, for example, combines Anemone nemorosa, Pulmonaria, Chionodoxa and Galanthus with later arriving Athyrium, Hosta, Ranunculus ficaria. The plants that develop later tend to have roots that use any surplus water, thus making a suitable environment for the dormant bulbs.

Most of the tulip divisions are formal in their style, so tend to look most effective when planted in blocks or ribbons - then lifted. They can work well interplanted with Myosotis or Bellis but, again, remove them all for summer.

Daffodils can work with Hellebores. Or with Clematis used as a ground cover or grow C integrifolia.

Another possible is to plant your bulbs in bulb baskets with a marker showing above ground so you know where to excavate when the foliage has died back.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 5:20AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I plant bulbs anywhere among perennials and shrubs. To me, the effect is more pleasing than bulbs planted in blocks or in sentinels. I don't have room to plant them in blocks anyway since my garden is very small.

Planting bulbs among perennials freed me from worries about fading leaves. I stopped planting Gladiolus and Dahlia because I had had enough digging them up and storing them for the winter, so I don’t want to spend any time or energy digging up spring bulbs to make room for perennials either.

I planted bulbs so that they would bloom in succession from late January/early February through October/November. This is the succession of blubs/corms/tubers in my garden. They do overlap each other somewhat and fill the gaps among perennials.

Snowdrops - Eranthis hyemalis - Miniature Iris - Crocus - Miniature Daffodils - Scilla sibirica - Chionodoxa - Puschkinia - Erythronium americanum - Early - Mid - Late blooming Daffodils & Early - Mid - Late blooming Tulips - Muscari - Miniature tulips - Anemone blanda - Fritillaria meleagris - Fritillaria pallida - Allium afflatunense/Globematers/cristophii- Leucojum estivum - Bearded Iris - Lillies (Asiatic/trumpet/tigrinum/speciosum) - Liatris spicata - Licoris squamigera - fall crocus - Colchicum

The bulb that gives me the most bangs for the bucks is Allium albopilosum or cristophii. It is so very pretty from the moment it opens up in May. The seed head stays attractive until early winter when the wind blows it away.

I took Colston Burrell'a suggestions to heart. He wrote that you could plant thousands of bulbs in your garden among your other plants. So I planted them in layers in any spot I could find among my perennials.

What does it mean by planting in layers? It means planting 2 or 3 different kinds of bulbs with the exception of daffodils in the same hole. Most Daffodils multiply readily and form a clump effectively blocking other bulbs to push through, so I don't plant anything else in the same hole.

How do I plant bulbs in layers? By planting the largest bulb such as Allium Globemaster at the bottom, filling the hole with some soil, placing a medium size bulb such as tulip in the hole, adding a little soil, planting a small bulb such as Scilla on top, then cover with more soil. Voila!

I tried to choose fragrant plants and/or anything that bloom the longest or give me the longest interest in the garden.

My favorite tulips are species tulips (very dainty, multiply and come back year after year), Tulip Pink Impression (comes back for 9 yrs. now) Tulip Ballerina (blooms the latest - still blooms when Allium begins to bloom).

You can get bulbs the most economically from Van Engelen that sells a large number of each kind of bulbs.

You can get fewer bulbs from Van Englen’s sister company, John Scheepers .

I get Lilies from The Lily Gardens.

Tulip Ballerina:

Allium cristophii, Rose ‘Tiffany’ and Lamb’s Ear:

More Allium cristophii among Lamb’s Ear:

One of the many Lilies:

Fritillaria meleagris:

Leucojum estivum ‘Gravetye Giant’:


There are at least a thousand bulbs in this backyard:

And many more in the front yard:

Happy Bulb Planting this fall. :-)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 7:33PM
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thanks Vetivert and Pitim! Vetivert, thanks for all the info.You sound like a very hard worker! I don't know if I could do all that...at least not yet. I may be a tad too lazy for all that, lol!

Pitim, thanks for the detailed explanations! That helps a lot. I really appreciate it. I LOVE allium...and tulips and daffodils and crocuses and I like how you have a system for having all those.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 2:22PM
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