Now is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs in most areas of the country. While we delight in seeing large swaths of daffodils, crocus, and tulips in bloom, many gardeners don’t have either the space or the right growing conditions to plant large beds of bulbs. If you are one of these space-crunched gardeners, try layering bulbs.
Layering bulbs is a great way to have a variety of bulbs blooming in a compact space. It also extends the flower show for weeks. The key is having a sunny, well-drained location to plant your bulbs. Then it’s time to plant your layers.
Layering bulbs takes advantage of the different depths bulbs must be planted based on their size and bloom times. All bulbs should be planted about three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Start by digging a simple 2 x 2-foot wide hole in a prominent location. Dig the hole about 1 foot deep, and layer the bottom with a few inches of compost and some bulb fertilizer. Select large-sized bulbs for the first layer, such as hyacinths and large alliums. If these bulbs are 2 to 3 inches tall, the bottom of the bulbs should be about 7 to 9 inches deep. Place the bulbs tightly packed together, almost touching. Cover this layer with compost, topsoil, and fertilizer, and start a second layer. This layer will have bulbs that are about 2 inches tall, such as tulips and daffodils. They should be planted about 4 to 6 inches deep. Again, pack them in and cover them to create the third and final layer. This layer will only be 2 to 3 inches deep and will include the smaller bulbs, such as crocus, scilla, snowdrops, and grape hyacinths. Cover the planting hole to the soil line, and water.
Come spring, the early-blooming small bulbs will begin the flower show, followed by midseason tulips and daffodils, and finally the large hyacinths and alliums. During spring, there will be an overlap of flowering, creating a dynamic show. Simply keep the spent bulbs deadheaded to allow the beauty of the newly emerging bulbs to shine through.