How To Plant Flower Bulbs
Tips for planting Spring flowering bulbs
1 When to plant
As soon as the ground is cool, bulbs should be planted. In general, when the evening temperature averages between 40° and 50° F. You may plant later than the recommended planting time, as long as it is prior to the first frost. The bulbs need several weeks to form roots before the ground freezes.
2 Where to plant
No particular soil is required for planting flower bulbs, as long it is well-drained. Avoid areas where water collects. Bulbs also like sun. This is easy, as the leaves are not on the trees yet. For best results, loosen the soil around 10” deep before planting and add some mulch, if the structure needs loosening. After planting, you may apply a slow acting fertilizer, like HOLLAND BULB BOOSTER. If the same area is used for Tulips and Hyacinths year after year, it is possible that Rhizoctonia will occur in the soil. To prevent the bulbs from being affected we advise to choose preferably a “fresh” planting location or add Rizolex to the soil.
3. Planting depth and distance
General rule is that the bulbs should be planted at a depth that is double their length.
Larger bulbs must be planted in an upright position (with the nose up) in the planting hole. Smaller bulbs can be scattered. The spacing of the bulbs depends on the visual effect you are looking for. We recommend to plant the bulbs in large clusters for the greatest color impact.
4. Choosing the right combination of bulbs
The choice of Spring bulbs is very wide and it is possible to reach many different effects. In a successful bulb combination, not only the colors but also the flower shapes are balanced. In our inspiration section you will find many examples of bulb borders. In a classic bulb planting we need at least 6 bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths) per square foot. If we mix tulips with perennials this can be 3-4 bulbs. Hyacinths are often applied in classic flower beds. All varieties have more or less the same height, which gives a peaceful effect. Tulips and daffodils combine very well because of their shapes and colors. The more natural looking daffodils in soft tones with the “royal” tulips in every possible color.
5. Mixing bulbs
In mass displays great results can be reached by mixing bulbs in an informal way. If you wish to have a border that blooms over a longer period you can choose bulb types with different flowering times. This can be mixes of Tulips or Daffodils only like we pre-mix for you. In our inspiration section you will find many examples of combining various bulbs like Anemone, Muscari, Crocus and Hyacinths with taller Tulips and Daffodils. If you opt for this type of planting we can always help you choosing your custom-made mix!
We also offer many ready-to-plant mixtures of Tulips that all bloom at the same time and have already proven their success.
6. Mass plantings of bulbs in beds and borders
To enjoy perennial and Rose borders earlier in the season, Spring flowering bulbs can be added. As a bonus, the perennials will later hide the withering leaves of the bulbs. Large plantings of Hyacinths, Daffodils and Tulips add a beautiful multi-color effect to the border. Tulips make a lovely combination with Wallflowers, Pansies, and Forget-me-nots.
Many bulbs are perennial and can be left in the soil to return for many years. Under the right circumstances the bulbs will soon multiply and come back in following years, like they have always been there. It is important that the foliage is allowed do die down. Bulbs planted in grass need about 6 weeks to die back, in which you cannot mow. Add a slow-acting fertilizer when the bulbs emerge from the soil and after flowering.
8. Bulbs in lawns and grass strips
Several bulb types are suitable for planting under grass. The earliest flowering types are the best choice, since the bulb foliage has to be died down before mowing. . Some bulbs like Chionodoxa, Scilla or Eranthis depend upon seeds for propagation. These seeds take about 6 -8 weeks after flowering before they are ripe. When the seeds fall from the plants, the mowing can start.
Crocus Species and Large-flowering
Eranthis cilicica and Fritillaria meleagris
Daffodils and Narcissi
9. Planting bulbs around trees
Mass plantings with Daffodils will create attractive blocks of color between trees and along road during a time of year when nature is still at rest. Avoid planting bulbs under evergreens as they will not receive enough light.
10. Prolong the flowering period by planting in layers
Flower bulbs can be planted in layers, both in containers as well as in garden soil. The bulbs that flower the earliest, like Crocus, should be planted over later flowering types like Tulips.
11. Bulbs in flower containers
Flower containers are being used more and more to upgrade the appearance of urban areas and access roads. Bulbs can play an important role in container planting, as the flowering can start as early as February with Crocus. Plant bulbs in layers (the bulbs flowering last are planted at the lowest level) or work with removable inner containers. The flowers can be replaced when their blooming period is finished.
Especially in the winter period, too much water is dangerous to the bulbs. Therefore we advise to place the containers on blocks, so that the water can flow away. Use a layer of clay granules at the bottom and add a layer of compost between the bulb layers. In your choice of bulb types you may favor the lower flowering types as they are less susceptible to wind effects.
12. Growing Spring bulbs in warmer climates
In warmer climates most Spring bulbs can be grown with success if you give them a period of cold of 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator or cooler. The right time to plant is December or January. Daffodils are the exception, no chilling is needed, just store in a cool and dry place before planting.
Tulips that do best in the South are Single Late, Lily Flowering and Parrot Tulips.
Other bulb favorites that will do well in warm weather are Crocus, Hyacinths, Muscari and tall Alliums and, of course, Daffodils