How To: Trench Planting Spring Blooming Bulbs

Trench Planting Spring Blooming Bulbs - Welcoming Walkway Bulb CollectionTrench Planting Spring Blooming Bulbs - Welcoming Walkway Bulb Collection

Trench planting is a quick, efficient way to plant flower bulbs for hundreds of spring blooms with minimal effort. If you’ve ever visited a botanic garden in early spring, you’re sure to have seen brilliant swaths of blooming Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinth. You don’t need a horticultural staff to get this look in your own yard! By trench planting bulbs in fall, you can easily get 100 bulbs planted in under an hour. With just a little time and planning, you’ll have a wonderful spring gift awaiting you.

Trench Planting Bulbs In 6 Simple Steps 

  1. Choose your bulbs. We suggest planting at least 100 blooms for a big impact. Choose your favorite variety, or go with a bulb collection to make design simple.
  2. Dig a trench to the right depth for the flower bulb you’ve chosen, plus 2-4 inches to loosen the soil below the bubs. Most bulbs need to be planted between 4-8” deep, and you will find that information on the pacakge.
  3. Place the bulbs in the trench, pointy side up. When planting a collection or a variety of bulbs, you have a few options for design. You can mix up your bulbs to plant them in a natural style, or you can plant them in rows or blocks of color. When planting in rows, you may want to put shorter flowers in front and taller flowers in back.
  4. Cover with soil and press firmly with your hands. If bulbs need to be planted at different depths, you can plant in layers. 
  5. Water thoroughly to elimiate of any air pockets.
  6. Come spring, you’ll be greeted with bright cheery blooms!
Digging A TrenchDigging A Trench
Digging A Trench
Planting The Welcoming Walkway Bulb Collection In RowsPlanting The Welcoming Walkway Bulb Collection In Rows
Planting The Welcoming Walkway Bulb Collection In Rows

Hepful Hints

  • If your soil is hard to dig, you can also create a raised bed for bulbs.
  • If you have concerns about rodents eating or damaging your bulbs underground over the winter, try adding a layer of gravel below and around your bulbs. It will deter burrowing critters from reaching the bulbs. You can also use bulb cages, or opt for critter-resistant bulb varieties such as Daffodils, Alliums, Squill, and Hyacinth.
  • If you have concerns about deer or rabbits, be sure to use a deer repellent in spring. 
  • You can make a big impact in a small area. A 1 ft. x 5 ft. planting area can be dug quickly, usually in 10 to 15 minutes, but is large enough to give you a beautiful swath of bright blooms in spring.

11 Fall-Planted Bulbs Tips

1. Choose bulbs for your zone

Tulips, Daffodils, and Mini Iris are among the most cold-hardy bulbs, and are typically cold hardy in zones 3-7. These bulbs require a dormancy period provided by the cold temperatures of winter.

If you’re in a warmer area, zones 8-10, choose Allium, Crown Imperial (Fritillaria), Wand Flower (Ixia) or Spider Lily (Lycoris).

2. Plant for non-stop blooms

Choose a variety of bulbs to make sure you have early-spring, mid-spring, late-spring blooms. Or, choose a fall bulb mix or collection - these are generally designed to bloom throughout the season.


3. Plant bulbs where you can appreciate them

If you’re using small bulbs, be sure to place them near a walkway so that you can appreciate their delicate blooms. Use larger, bolder-blooming bulbs if the planting will be viewed from a distance.

Welcoming Walkway Bulb CollectionWelcoming Walkway Bulb Collection
Welcoming Walkway Bulb Collection

4. Make sure you have enough bulbs

Based on the garden area, you’ll want to plant bulbs at the right density per square foot, depending on bulb size. Find the recommended bulb spacing on each product page, as well as on the bulb packaging.

  • Smaller bulbs, such as Crocus, Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), and small blooming Allium, are around 16 bulbs per square foot.
  • For larger bulbs, such as Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinth, typically 6 bulbs are planted per square foot.
  • Some large bulbs--Globe Master Allium and Crown Imperial (Fritillaria) for example--are planted with as few as 3 bubs per square foot.

 

5. Make planting easy

For simple planting, choose bulbs that have the require the same planting density and planting depth. One easy way to do that is to plant a mix of the same bulb varietiy. Mini bulbs, including Crocus, mini Daffodils, Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), and Mini Iris also pair well, as most are planted with 16 bulbs per square foot and 2-4” inches deep.

6. Include some perennial bulbs

If you choose spring-blooming bulbs that naturalize, it means they are perennial bulbs that will multiply and spread. You’ll plant these bulbs just once, and enjoy them more year after year. Good naturalizers include Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa), Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), Daffodils, and Wildflower Tulips. To ensure reblooming, fertilize after blooming each year with a 3-5-3 fertilizer.

7. Choose pest-resistant bulbs

If you have deer or other pests such as squirrels and voles, choose critter-resistant bulb varieties such as Daffodils, Grape Hyacinth (Muscari), Fritillaria, and Hyacinth. Planting strong-smelling Fritillaria amongst Tulips will often deter pests from Tulip bulbs, which are not pest resistant. (Note: Wildflower Tulips are deer resistant!)

8. Make a statement with a monochromatic blooms

People will notice your bulb planting from hundreds of yards away if you stick to one color. You can accomplish this in several ways. Try planting all Daffodils, but choosing varieties that will bloom at different times. Or, create a pleasing purple palette by choosing purple Crocus and Mini Iris for early blooms, Tulips, Grape Hyacinth and Hyacinth for mid-season blooms, and Allium for late season flowers.

9. Plant bulbs in layers for a “bursting with blooms” look

You can mix bulbs that require different depths. Dig the depth of the trench to the needs of the deepest bulbs (12” for large Daffodils). Plant those that need the greatest depth first. Add a few inches of soil and add another layer of bulbs that have shallower planting depths.

10. Plant spring-blooming bulbs in your lawn

Remove the sod before trench planting, then lay it over the planted area again. Make sure to account for the depth of the sod when digging your trench. Bulbs will poke through the lawn and bloom in spring-time. After your bulbs have gone dormant (a few weeks after blooming), you can resume mowing the area again.

11. Mix bulbs with perennials

You can also plant perennials on top of the bulbs, to disguise the bulb foliage as it dies back. Spring-blooming groundcovers such as Phlox, Veronica and Thyme work particularly well, as they will bloom in tandem with the bulbs. We recommend Veronica with Daffodils, Tulips with Thyme, and Phlox with Hyacinth and Allium. Learn More: Colorful Combinations - Mixing Perennials and Spring Blooming Bulbs

Shop High Country Gardens Fall Planted (Spring Blooming) Flower Bulbs

  1. White Daffodil Bulbs, Thalia Daffodil,  with White Hyacinth

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  2. Muscari aucheri Dark Eyes, Grape Hyacinth

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    Fun, versatile, and in no need of staking, ‘Twyning’s Smartie’ Dahlia is a bi-colored single Dahlia that will delight you from summer until first frost with gorgeous blooms. Cu...

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    Fun, versatile, and in no need of staking, ‘Twyning’s Smartie’ Dahlia is a bi-colored single Dahlia that will delight you from summer until first frost with gorgeous blooms. Cupped petals surround a daisy-like yellow center, playfully alternating between magenta, bright white, and the occasional brushstrokes of both colors. Blooms break differently – no two are exactly the same! With deep green foliage and a relatively compact form, there is room for these smart flowers in any garden. Single Dahlias make it easy for pollinators to find a meal, and make for attractive cut flowers.
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