How do you hide...

jamie_mt(z4/5 MT)March 20, 2008

...your bulb foliage, once the flowers are gone?

Our thread on crocuses and other spring bulbs (the pictures are beautiful, by the way!), got me thinking about how much I'd like to plant more bulbs next fall. I've been wanting to since we moved in here three years ago, and the dying foliage never bothered me at my old house.

But it bothers my husband. A lot. So much that he's declared a moratorium on any more bulbs in the garden (those we have now - crocus and tulips - were here when we moved in). He gets it from his dad, who tills thier flower beds under every year (weird, odd person who don't plant perennials).

So I'm putting together a "planting plan" that I can use to try to talk him into letting me have more bulbs in a few of our beds, and I want to figure out what I can plant in front of them that would wake up quickly enough in early spring to hide the foliage once the blooms are done, but not so quickly they hide the blooms. The beds are about half and half shade/sun, depending on the time of day, and in particular, I was thinking about things like bleeding hearts, mums, and other delicate "bushy" type plants.

So how do you hide your bulb foliage, or do you? I honestly never worried about it until now - it doesn't bother me, and I try to point out that growing anything is a cyclical process, but no luck yet, and I really, really want some more bulbs for next spring!

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david52 Zone 6

Since I'm the one who has to clean it up, I just leave it, and try to have something thats really spectacular in and around so no one notices the old foliage. The best result, so far, has been doing daffodils / tulips in a bed with May Night Salvia and some other slightly different shade of blue Salvia, that bloom in May-June. So a couple hundred bulbs, and 20 or so Salvia. That bed is still, I hope, full of snap dragons which go all summer as well.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 12:02PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Last year was my first to try to grow any bulbs, but what I did was planted fast growing annuals in front of them. In the first picture, you can see the tulips, and there is nothing in front of them:

This picture was taken from the other side. These are 'Dwarf Ladybird Mix' Cosmos, which started to fill in the area just as the tulip foliage was dying back.

Some of the early blooming, shorter Coreopsis like 'Creme Brule', or a short Gallardia like 'Goblin' would bloom pretty early and not get too tall, too fast.

I'm afraid I'm with your DH on this one, the dying foliage bugs me too.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 12:35PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Jamie,

I dont really try to hide the foliage very muchthough I dont really have all that many bulbs yet at this point! Crocus have such tiny leaves, they seem to just "go away" very quickly, so I find theyre really no problem at all. This is the first year Ive had the tiny little species crocus, and I definitely want to put in a few more of those, and more of the larger hybrids this fall.

With the daffodils and the hyacinths I have, I deadhead the flower stems all the way down, and then I slowly trim the foliage shorter and shorter as it browns on the tips. That seems to leave enough foliage long enough for the bulbs to develop good flowers for the following year, yet it keeps the visible foliage pretty much green and decent looking till its all the way gone. If you had a LOT of bulbs, this method would be a LOT of work, and probably not feasible, but Ill never have a whole lot because of my small yard, so it works well for me.

I dont have any tulipsand probably wont put any inbecause they have some of the largest foliage which makes it harder to keep it looking good while its dying down. That said, Im amazed by how well Bonnies tulips are hidden by the cosmos! Unfortunately I dont have room to put annuals in to hide things since my space is so limited, and almost all of it is reserved for perennialswhich do help hide some of the foliage if they happen to be in the right place. But Ill probably stick to gradually putting in more dafs since I feel you get more bang for the buck with them. And I guess I just like daffodils better than tulips, and (if I ever get enough flowers that Im willing to cut some of them) they seem to last much longer in water than tulips do. Id like to get a few of the pretty pink dafsand some of the other more unusual ones.

The grape hyacinths I have are evergreen, so theyre not really any problem at all. Every now and then they get long and floppy looking, and I just gather the foliage all together in my hand and give them a short haircut straight across the top to make them look good again. In a couple weeks they have fresh, new foliage and look brand new. I actually just gave them a haircut a couple weeks ago so theyll be fresh and perky looking when theyre blooming.

I've heard stories of people "braiding" the foliage on their bulbs to make them look better after theyre done blooming, but thats never made any sense at all to me since, presumably, the purpose of leaving the foliage on is so it can take in the sunlight to help produce the flower bud for the following year, and if the foliage is braided, how much sun can it take in!!! AND, why would brown/dying foliage look any better if its braided than if its not braided!!! I dont braid mine!

So my primary recommendation would be to trim the brown foliage off gradually as they die back!

Whatever you decide to do, it is SOOOOO worth having them for the early spring color. It is just such a wonderful infusion of gardening excitement right when you need it the most!

Its spring, its spring, its spring.............

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 1:33PM
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Azura(z5 CO)

I am eager to read the answers to this one but I thought I would share the link to a similar post from last year so we can get all the ideas possible. :)
I have planted daylilies and pansies to hide tulip foliage since last year and Ive sprinkled poppy seed over the top of my daffodils. The pansies survived under the snow and are in their third week of blooming. I only wished I had planted more.
Does anyone have tulip foliage up yet?

Here is a link that might be useful: What is blooming in your garden right now?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 3:34PM
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jamie_mt(z4/5 MT)

Well, I'm not a huge salvia fan (I know, bite my tongue!), but I love, love, love the way that coreopsis looks in your garden, Bonnie! And there are some good suggestions in the thread azura linked to as well, like forget-me-nots that might be something to consider.

I do have tulip foliage coming up, actually - it's about an inch and a half tall now, exciting! I had a bunch of bulbs at my old place, tulips, daffodils, hyacynths and crocus, all interplanted among my rose beds. So cheerful in the spring, and I adore different "fancy" tulips. These that "came with the house" are just plain ol' red, and they need a complimentary color to grow with them, in my opinion.

We're re-doing those beds this summer, so I'll definately write these down to suggest when I get ready to argue my case. ;-)

Thanks! More suggesions are always welcome, of course...

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 4:04PM
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foxes_garden(Z5, CO Front Range)

I do have tulip foliage. I don't know what kind they are since they were here when I got here. The leaves are very pretty, variegated. I remember the blooms were red last year.

My garden definitely has a foliage issue. Daffodils and daylilies everywhere, and nothing hides them. I'm going to see what I can do about annuals for cover this year, but I also really need to mark the locations and dig and divide once things have died back.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 6:55PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I think it's nice to find a cover plant to hide the foliage too, but I don't do it very well. But hey, if your husband wants to dictate what goes in the garden, does he do the work to maintain it? I keep telling my wife that if she'd just start working in the garden, she could pick anything she wants to grow!

Hmmm... It's still not working, though... As a matter of fact, I'm reworking a long, mostly perennial, bed to make her more happy with constant summer blooming annuals.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 12:01AM
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jamie_mt(z4/5 MT)

That's actually the problem (I shouldn't say problem, but...). Hubby likes to get out there and do the planting, weeding and watering too, so he actually does "earn" a full 50 percent say in what goes in since he puts just as much work into it as I do (aside from the seed starting - he doesn't seem interested at all in helping with that). It's great that we do it together, but a bit frustrating when it comes to deciding what to put in (and where). Especially since we come from families with completely different perspectives on gardening (his is all annuals, mine is predominantly perennials w/annuals for "trim" and pots).

Be careful what you wish was a lot easier making decisions when it was all up to me. ;-)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 11:53AM
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Azura(z5 CO)

Most of what you see in this photo are fringed tulips I got from a friend in Slovakia. They are just popping up in my front yard where the pocket gophers and voles do not roam (knock on wood). Inside the red circles are Raggedy Andy daylilies I received at the Fall Plant Swap from Catlady (Thank you Catlady and Catlady's hubby too). So far, the timing seems perfect because the tulips grow a lot faster than the daylilies and the daylilies will hopefully cover the dying tulip foliage perfectly.
(Please ignore the dead daylily foliage and that naughty little grass sneaking in there...its funny how I dont notice these things unless they are blown up to 250% on my computer screen)
I will try to remember to update when the tulips have faded away.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 12:40PM
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Azura(z5 CO)

I wanted to bump this one and see how the hiding of tulip foliage is working out for everyone. Anyone have any success stories?
Here are the tulips above when they were in bloom last month:
This photo was taken 4/29.

I will take a new photo of the foliage as it is dying back and post it in the next few days. The daylilies are doing an okay job but I was hoping someone else has an even better idea.
Jamie, did you find something that is working well for you?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 4:50PM
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