Bulbs Gardening

Layer Your Bulb Plantings

You can easily layer bulbs for a greater concentration of blooms or a longer blooming season.

Did you know you can plant bulbs in layers, like a lasagna?

Plant a first layer of larger bulbs, like hyacinths, narcissus, and tulips, since they need the deepest planting anyway. Now cover them with soil and plant smaller bulbs that are usually planted only a few inches deep overtop: snowdrops, crocus, squills, Greek anemones, grape hyacinths, etc.

Tulip Pinocchio
Tulips blooming through a layer of Greek anemones.

Usually the small bulbs bloom first, and when they stop blooming, the larger ones take over, extending the flowering season. But even if they bloom at the same time (Greek anemones [Anemone blanda] stay in bloom more than a month and will usually continue to bloom as later bulbs push up through them!), the result will only be that much more beautiful. Imagine beautiful red tulips emerging from a carpet of white or blue anemones: superb!

And why stop at only two layers: you can plant three! Put the largest bulbs on the bottom, the medium-sized ones in the middle, and the smaller ones on top. Or late-blooming bulbs on the bottom, midseason bulbs in the middle and the earliest bulbs closest to the top. In fact, it really doesn’t matter what order you plant bulbs in: they’ll naturally bloom in their usual order, from early-bloomers to season-enders.

Note that even if you plant bulbs deeper than is usually recommended, at most it will only delay their blooming by a day or two; they’ll still flower. Even bulbs planted at twice the usually recommended depth will still flower readily, at least as long as the soil is well drained.

More flowers in the same amount of space? Why not!20161025a

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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