Bulb Planting Question

pixie_louOctober 6, 2011

As usual, I bought a ton of bulbs at Christmas Tree Shops this year. I've always thought of my tulips as annuals - since they don't seem to last more than a few years. But this year, I also bought a bunch of allium bulbs and daffodil bulbs.

So here is my question - when I go out to plant these bulbs this weekend - do I have to dig separate holes for the different types of bulbs? Or can I dig one largish hole, throw in a couple daffodil bulbs, a couple tulip bulbs and a couple allium bulbs?

FWIW - these will all be going in my border gardens out behind my pond - where I'm looking for splashes of color from the distance. Nothing formal back there.

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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

It may just depend on the recommended planting depth. If they are the same for all the bulbs, then you can certainly dig larger holes for several bulbs. However, having said that, my personal preference is for masses of the same bulbs together. To me this makes more of an impact then a scattered mix. But that's just a personal preference. I have two brand new beds and so I just planted some hyacinth and tulip bulbs, which were OK at the same depth. I dug out the beds, placed the bulbs, covered them with soil just slightly above the tops, placed a piece of wire mesh over the entire bed, and then covered with more soil, and then mulch. That way the squirrels can't eat them, and there is still 6 inches of soil above the wire mesh, so that I can plant annuals or even perennials next spring.

Allium foliage tends to look pretty bad just about the time the blooms are opening, so they are often planted among some other lower growing plants to hide the foliage.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 10:00AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Pixie Lou, sounds like you have a great spot for those bulbs. The color contrast should be striking from a distance.

I've been planting daffodil bulbs for over 30 years and always do it the same way. I dig a large trench, work in some bonemeal, and then throw in a handful of daffodil bulbs. Wherever they land, I just set them upright so the roots go down and push them in a bit. Of course, I move them apart a bit if they touch each other.

Have you planted many daffodils before? I ask because daffodils naturalize. When you let the leaves just die back, the big mother bulb benefits. She sends out babies along the sides of the main bulb and your clump gets bigger, sometimes even lifting itself up and out of the ground. At that point you'll need to transplant, like I did last Spring as mine finished flowering.
I gave away about 200 "extra" bulbs to neighbors and teachers at school and ended up just tossing others into the woods. The clumps were so big that they just lifted easily out of the ground. Many still had flowers attached which was nice because their new owners could see what the flowers looked like.

Sorry, but I don't have experience growing alliums. I don't know if they spread like daffodils, which would be an issue when you orginally plant them. I love the look of them in clusters and will be curious to read what others have to say. Hmmm, maybe that will give me inspiration!


    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 10:30AM
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Molie - I've planted thousands of daffodils. I've gotten huge clumps from my grandmothers house and then separated them at my house. (I actually remember helping my grandmother separate 3 clumps of daffodils about 15 years ago - we ended up making 30 clumps of daffodils. I've now taken a bunch of those clumps - each clump easily has 100 bulbs in it!)

I'm actually not that fond of the shape of allium flowers - but they bring great bursts of color when viewed from a distance. So I'm trying them.

I'm actually wondering if having the tulips and daffodils together will help prevent the deer from eating the tulips - since deer don't eat daffodils. I guess I'll go read the planting instructions for the planting depth(I don't think I've ever read planting instructions on a bulb package before!)

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 1:08PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Pixie, those daffodils from your grandmother must be wonderful older varieties, probably unnamed? Those are really the best because they are so prolific and just keep coming and coming. You should post some pictures of them next spring.

I don't know what to say about the deer and tulips. You could try the combination of tulips and daffodils and see how it goes. At last house which was in a heavily wooded area, voles did more damage to my tulips than the deer; in fact, I lost almost every one I planted over the years and finally gave up on all but the species, Kaufmanniana and Fosteriana tulips.

Now I live along a tidal river and battle muskrats, rabbits, and the dreaded woodchucks. Luckily, the deer are infrequent visitors in my garden. They prefer my daylilies.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 9:36PM
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I've read that tulips last longer if they are planted extra deep.

Also, if you spray the tulips with nasty deer repellents before you plant, it is said to help keep voles away.

Bone meal attracts underground critters. May be a good time for synthetics.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 10:47PM
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I will sometimes plant bulbs in layers, with larger bulbs like tulips or daffodils on the bottom, some dirt on top, and then smaller bulbs above with dirt over the entire hole. So it depends if you have some of the big alliums, like Globemaster, which needs to be deeper, or some of the little ones, which could be planted over the daffodils or tulips.

I'd love to hear if interplanting the tulips and daffodils help reduce the amount critters eat. If so, I may try planting daffodils around things to help reduce voles.

And Wendy, thanks for the repellent suggestion to keeps voles out! Maybe my crocus will live longer than a single year.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2011 at 7:32AM
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I suspect that allium and their close relatives deter some critters, so I let all sorts of them (though mainly smaller drumstick-types) multiply at will all over my garden. Some of the daintier ones are really lovely in masses, and the drumsticks add color to the foliage masses of perennials that bloom earlier or later. I love them mixed with hellebores, for example, because the hellebores don't add much during the summer months.

One down side of mixing tulips and daffs is that once the tulips stop blooming, their foliage keeps coming and doesn't add anything to the display, but digging them up presents a problem because you might damage the daffs.

Just my 2 cents - DtD

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:44AM
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I ended up doing individual plantings. I dumped all the bulbs into 3 buckets - one variety per bucket - and then mixed the bulbs up in the buckets. By mixing, I was hoping to distribute the different varieties. Then I went out with all 3 buckets and my shovel. I dug a hole, planted 3 bulbs from my tulip bucket. Moved about a foot to the side, dug another hole and planted 3 bulbs from my allium bucket. Again moved about a foot down the row, dug a hole and planted 3 bulbs from my daffodil bucket. I did this until my buckets were empty. Halfway thru the row I realized that I had a lot more tulip bulbs than other bulbs, so I started throwing 4 or 5 tulip bulbs per hole. And when I ran out of allium and daffodils, I planted the rest of the tulips in random placed in my yard.

We will see what happens. Hopefully the voles and deer will leave all these bulbs alone and I will have pretty bursts of color next spring.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 12:09PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Critters won't touch daffodils (poisonous) or Allium (onion smell and taste), but they look upon Tulips as candy. The tulips, especially at Christmas Tree Shop, are very inexpensive, and can be considered as annuals if they survive the voles.

What kind of Allium did you buy? They will naturalize. Most people are only familiar with the large globe shaped Allium, but the smaller varieties are great bulbs. They are vigourous and naturalize freely. The yellow variety they had at CTS that I saw was Allium moly 'Jeannine'. These are only 12 inches high and have star-like yellow flowers that bloom in early summer. I planted about 150 of these this fall. With the prices at CTS, it's hard to go wrong.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Steve - I don't remember which type of alliums I bought. They were in the "cheap" packages at CTS - about the same price as the tulips. IIRC - there were some yellow ones, and some white ones, and some purple ones! They were not the big purple globe ones.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 9:56PM
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