Planting Fall bulbs in a Perennial flower bed

gardengal_co(z5 CO)August 20, 2011

I would like to plant spring flowering bulbs in my ESTABLISHED perennial bed. How can I do this without disrupting the plants that are already there? Any suggestions? Tricks? Tips? My fear is damaging the perennials. Or is there a preferred time to do this? When dividing? Thanks.

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I do this all the time. You do have to be careful but it's not hard. I just plant around my plants. In tight spaces I plant small bulbs such as crocus, miniature daffodils, anemone, etc. The perennials will help hide the dying foliage of the bulbs which is real important if you want them to return the next year (the bulbs that is). I also plant larger bulbs were there is room. I have never lost a perennial due to planting bulbs but I have lost bulbs previously planted when the shovel slices them. :-o Good luck and I say go for it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 10:07AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

In my experience, the problem is not harming the perennials when you plant the bulbs, but rather, harming the bulbs when you dig and divide the perennials later. So, you should either mark your bulb locations carefully, and/or make a map so you know exactly where they are. (And then remember to refer to the map when it's time to dig perennials. :) If you're pretty organized, it's well worth the effort.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 5:25PM
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gardengal_co(z5 CO)

Organized?... well that's harder then digging and planting the bulbs... with that being said I will plant the bulbs and hope for the best when the spade comes out to deal with the perennials.
Thanks for your responses.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 6:46PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

I do it all the time also and agree that the perennials are going to limit your long term success with the bulbs way more than the other way around. In my tight garden they tend to shade out the bulb leaves before they are really done and also for many bulbs watering all summer is not ideal. In particular I find that daffodils suffer the worst in this situation. I treat tulips like annuals and yank them from my mixed beds when they finish.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 8:03PM
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If you plant aggressive naturalizing bulbs like muscari, you will not care even a little bit if you inadvertently hack dozens of bulbs to bits while you are digging/dividing your perennials. It will be a fraction of what's there.

I actually find muscari to be a great spring bulb to plant under perennials. They are SO aggressive in growing and multiplying that they can be shaded by the emerging perennials and still manage to survive and thrive, especially since they produce leaves in the fall/winter as well as spring.

Also, when there are large numbers of muscari clustered there, you need something to grow up and cover the grassy leaves after the blooms are gone.

But since they are shallow-rooted, short, and dormant in summer, they don't compete with the perennials.

If you look for bulbs with the key word "naturalizes" (which means it multiplies on its own) you will get something where you don't mind sacrificing a few bulbs here and there over the years as you dig in your garden.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 3:54AM
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