Mixing Perennials & Spring Blooming Bulbs To Extend The Seasons Of Color In Your Garden
By David Salman, High Country Gardens Chief Horticulturist
Many gardeners are under the impression that bulbs need to be planted into empty beds or other unplanted spaces. But this absolutely not the case. In fact, flowering bulbs are almost always found in their native habitats growing with native grasses and perennial plants.
Thus, bulbs are excellent companion plants that fit happily into existing flower beds of perennials and groundcovers. Not only will this create more natural-looking plantings, but the bulbs and perennials work well from a timing perspective: Spring-blooms will wake up the beds early in the gardening season, and the grasses and perennials will help to hide the bulb foliage as the bulbs go dormant with the coming of summer.
Spring-blooming bulbs are one of the easiest and most rewarding plant groups we can use to extend the flowering season in our gardens. Not only will they bring a smile to the faces of winter-weary gardeners, but these brightly colored flowers provide vital early-season nectar for native bees, honeybees, and early-to-emerge butterflies. Really, the number of pleasing flower combinations is endless when mixing bulbs into the perennial garden.
- The groundcover Speedwells (Veronica), with their bright blue early-to-mid-spring flowers, create a fabulous backdrop for miniature Daffodils like 'Tete-a-Tete' and 'Thalia'. Crocus, miniature Iris, and Wildflower Tulips are also excellent with Speedwells.
- Creeping Thyme is another equally beautiful groundcover to mix with bulbs like Wildflower Tulips, Crocus, and miniature Daffodils.
- In shady areas planted with Lamium or other shade-loving groundcovers, the Spanish Hyacinth (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is an outstanding naturalizing bulb for mid-spring color.
- The taller growing Darwin Hybrid Tulips and tall mid-to-late-spring blooming Daffodils will create a stunning combination when planted with other larger growing perennials.
- Nepeta (Catmint) with its blue flowers and white-flowered Candytuft (Iberis) are two mid-spring bloomers that complement red blooming tall tulips.
- Centranthus (Valerian or Jupiter's Beard) looks great with tall blooming Alliums. With its globe-shaped blooms and late-spring to early-summer bloom time, Alliums are a wonderful way to bridge the gap between spring-blooming bulbs and summer-blooming perennials. Plus, their spherical forms add interest to the garden long after flowers have faded.
How To Plant Bulbs Into A Perennial Garden
Planting bulbs into groundcovers is simple.
- It's as easy as digging a hole in the soil or perennial groundcover mat and dropping some bulbs into the hole.
- Use a bulb planter to dig a nice hole to the proper depth.
- Mix some Yum Yum Mix into the backfill soil so the bulbs will be well fed when they wake up in the spring.
Extend The Seasons Of Color In Your Garden
When making your bulb list to plant this fall, choose varieties with a range of bloom times, including early-, mid-, and late spring. The key is to get started, and next spring, you'll be patting yourself on the back for giving this concept a try.
Allium aflatunense ‚Purple Sensation‚ blooms with large violet-purple globe shaped flowers on tall stems. A fantastic nectar source for the bees....Learn MorePurple Sensation Allium Purple Sensation Ornamental Onion Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation$12.99 Sale $9.74Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 10
Allium ‚Globemaster‚ (Ornamental Onion) has giant 10„ diameter violet flower heads on 2 to 3 ft. flower stems and blooms in early summer....Learn MoreGlobemaster Allium Globemaster Ornamental Onion Allium Globemaster$12.99 Sale $9.74Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 1
Narcissus ‚Tete-a-Tete‚ (Daffodil) is a perky little heirloom daffodil that has fragrant buttercup-yellow petals and yellow-orange cups. With 2 to 3 flowers per stem, &sb...Learn MoreTete-a-Tete Miniature Daffodil Tete-a-Tete Miniature Daffodil Narcissus Tete-a-Tete$17.99 Sale $13.49Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 25
Iris reticulata ‚Dark Blue‚ (Specie Iris) will reward you with dark blue blooms in early spring. Extremely cold hardy, this wildflower Iris can be grown almost anywhere f...Learn MoreDark Blue Specie Iris (Mini Iris) Dark Blue Specie Iris (Mini Iris) Iris reticulata Dark Blue$11.99 Sale $8.99Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 25
Narcissus triandrus ‚Thalia‚ (Daffodil) is a fragrant, multiflowered variety with up to 5 pure white flowers per plant. Heirloom variety....Learn MoreThalia Daffodil Thalia Daffodil Narcissus triandrus Thalia$12.99 Sale $9.74Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 8
Mount Hood Trumpet Daffodil (Narcissus) is a wonderful heirloom variety from the 1930‚s, the large flowers open yellow in mid-spring and mature to ivory-white....Learn MoreMount Hood Trumpet Daffodil Mount Hood Trumpet Daffodil Narcissus Mount Hood$12.99 Sale $9.74Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 8
Iris histrioides George is a Mini Iris with early-blooming, fragrant plum purple flowers with a touch of yellow that grows to about 6„ tall. Good for forcing, rock gardens and ...Learn MoreGeorge Specie Iris (Mini Iris) George Specie Iris (Mini Iris) Iris histrioides George$12.99 Sale $9.74Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 25
Rosy Delight Tulip (Tulipa) has large, dark rose-pink colored flowers on strong stems. Intensely colored blooms begin earlier and last longer than other Darwin tulips. Rosy Delight T...Learn MoreRosy Delight Darwin Tulip Rosy Delight Darwin Tulip Tulipa Rosy Delight$11.99 Sale $8.99Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 10
Tarda Tulip is a very showy star-shaped wildflower tulip that opens to reveal a bright yellow center and white tips. This tulip naturalizes easily, meaning it will multiply and sprea...Learn MoreTarda Wildflower Tulip Tarda Wildflower Tulip Tulipa Tarda$9.99 Sale $7.49Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 15
Allium Gladiator is a spectacular giant Onion that blooms in early summer with 6„ diameter rose-purple globes on 3 to 4 ft. flower stems. Globemaster and Gladiator Allium are t...Learn MoreGladiator Allium Gladiator Ornamental Onion Allium Gladiator$13.99 Sale $10.49Sale Price I Save 25%Per Bag of 2