Ever notice how some of the best things in life coming layers? Lasagna, baklava, even pizza (think of tangy sauce with gooey melted cheese on top)! Well, layering bulbs in your garden is fun, easy, and—delicious—to the eyes, at least.
You can do this in a container or in the ground. For a container, choose one at least 15 or more inches deep. Remember, clay pots can crack if left out over the winter, so glazed or plastic are best for this. Be sure the container has good drainage. Fill the bottom of the container with a good potting soil.
When you are about 12 inches from the top, place your tulips on this layer. Set them 2 inches apart, to protect them from cold winter temperatures. Cover with more soil, adding until the soil is about 7 inches from the top and place daffodils or hyacinths in this layer, again spacing 2 inches apart.
Add more soil to the top of the container and then plant pansies on top. Go in between the pansies with small bulbs such as crocus, grape hyacinths, or mini-iris and push them down into the soil about 3 inches deep. Water well. That’s it—a bouquet in a pot!
The container needs to be left outside for the winter because all these bulbs have to go through a cold period before blooming, but pull it up next to the house for a little protection. If we are forecast to get especially cold, then an armload of pine tags or dried leaves around the outside of the pot will offer extra protection. You could pull them into a garage or tool shed for a day or two—but don’t bring them inside. The warm temperatures may make them start to grow prematurely.
When you plant, keep in mind the bloom times of your bulbs. Do you want all the bulbs to bloom at the same time or do you want to extend your color over a longer period by choosing bulbs that bloom at different times? As a general guide, some good early bulbs would be crocus, mini-iris, Scilla Siberica or February Gold or Rijnveld’d Early Sensation daffodils. Bulbs that would bloom a little later would be most other daffodils, Triumph tulips, grape hyacinths or hyacinths. Some of the later blooming bulbs would be Single Late or Double Late Tulips, Lily-Flowered or Parrot Tulips, Spanish Bluebells, and Dutch Iris.
Always check the package or box when you buy your bulbs because it will tell you when they’ll bloom—Early Spring means March-ish, Mid Spring means April-ish, Late Spring means May-ish. Keep in mind that Mother Nature will decide exactly when….
To do this in the ground, dig a hole at least 12” deep. Tulips will always go on the bottom layer—this not only protects from our summer heat but also from burrowing critters like squirrels and voles (they don’t generally dig that far down). Daffodils or hyacinths can go in the middle layer because critters don’t eat them anyway. And to keep critters from digging in the top layer around your pansies, try sprinkling with crushed pepper flakes.
And remember, you can always plant bulbs beneath top layers of ground covers. A combination of bright yellow daffodils or tulips with the lavender-blue flowers of perennial vinca is gorgeous!
If a layer of bulbs is nice, a second (or third) layer is more than twice as nice!
Stop by the Great Big Greenhouse now for the best selection of flower bulbs.