Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Combining Bulbs and Perennials

by National Gardening Association Editors


Perennial flowers and spring-flowering bulbs are a winning combination. For the most attractive garden, combine flowers and bulbs with similar or complimentary colors, shapes, and sizes.

Colorful Combinations

Although a bed of brightly colored tulips or daffodils is stunning, its stardom is fleeting. Why not extend the bloom season by mixing the bulbs in with perennials that bloom before, during, and after the bulbs are finished? Not only will perennials provide summer blooms, their foliage will also help hide the dying and yellowing foliage of the bulbs when they are finished blooming.

To get the best results, consider each plant's color, bloom season, and height to find plants that complement one another. Remember that all the plants won't be in bloom at the same time, though some may overlap, so keep in mind how the foliage of the various plants will look together. Here are some combinations to help you get started.

Bulb: Flowering onion with
Perennials:

  • Lavender
  • Phlox
  • Geranium

Bulb: Lycoris with
Perennials:

  • Campanula
  • Tiarella
  • Monarda

Bulb: Dark purple tulip with
Perennials:

  • Oriental Poppy
  • Fritillaria
  • Daylily 'Stella de Oro'

Bulb: Lilac tulip with
Perennials:

  • Anemone
  • Delphinium
  • Stokesia

Flower Care

When you plant bulbs around existing plants, be careful not to damage the root systems of the perennials. Also, because the bulbs will be competing with the flowers for water and nutrients, keep the area well fertilized and watered, especially in spring and fall. Add compost to the soil at planting time, and fertilize the bulbs with a high phosphorus and moderate to low nitrogen fertilizer. Perennials may need to be divided or thinned after a few years to leave room for planting bulbs around them.

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