Designing Bulb Gardens

Doug Green

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There are few things nicer that planting bulbs as part of a mixed garden scheme. To begin with, ensure your bulbs are planted in an area that gets a full hot four to six hours of sunlight each day. This sunshine is most critical during the post-flowering period when the leaves are soaking up sunshine and turning that energy into next years flower. Without this sunshine, your bulbs are annuals.

In the perennial garden, plant them deeper than the package says. As a rule of thumb, plant bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is high. So, if your bulb is two inches across at its widest point, plant the little fellow six inches deep. I used to plant mine eight to twelve inches deep so they wouldn’t be in the way when I was digging and moving perennials around. This deeper planting also seems to help bulbs survive the extremes in heat, drought and cold.

Let me suggest you plant in clumps of ten to fifteen bulbs. The more clumps the better as the spring show will be enhanced by the concentrations of color. Plant summer blooming perennials next to the bulb clumps so that when the bulbs are finished with their month in the spotlight, the perennials are just about to start blooming or starting to grow upwards for summer blooming. When the bulb foliage dies down, the perennial foliage will fill the space.

Remember that planting in clumps is our objective; this will give you a more impressive show than sprinkling a bulb or two here and there throughout the garden. A rule of thumb if you want to make a superb display that will green up the neighbors as well as the garden is to average one bulb per square foot of garden space. You can get information on planting and caring for bulbs here .

Doug Green is an award winning garden author of 7 books and writes a free gardening newsletter at


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