Each part of our garden works together. Some plants even help each other out by providing shade, covering bare stalks, or complementing a color scheme. When deciding which bulbs to grow, it can be helpful to visualize how they can weave into the fabric of your garden among the perennials, annuals, groundcovers, trees, shrubs, and even vegetables.
Flowering bulbs can create color contrast or color echo with other plants in your landscape. By choosing suitable companion plants, you can also ensure your garden is always flowering by planning for staggered blooms. Plus, the plants can work together to make each other look their very best—a perennial can hide maturing foliage of a bulb, for example. Perennials can also help keep bulbs dry when they go into dormancy—bulbs like to sleep in a dry bed, just like us, and perennials can help to catch any rainfall.
There are many plants that make great companions for your favorite bulbs. Here are some tips to get you started!
What To Plant With Daffodils
Where we are here in Virginia, we’re lucky enough to have bulbs that bloom every month of the year, even during winter. The White Petticoat Daffodil is one of the first ones to bloom for us. The corona is funnel-shaped—truly resembling a petticoat!—and it grows to be about six inches tall. It’s more vigorous and longer-lasting in bloom than other daffodils. We love how it looks as it comes up in our rock garden through sedums. In particular, Sedum Angelina is a wonderful variety since it provides year-round interest, with its leaves changing color throughout the season.
Other Companion Plant Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning what to grow alongside your bulbs.
- Anemone blanda are perfect under low-growing shrubs. These flowers will create a carpet of color before shrubs fully develop their leaves.
- Plant early bloomers like Crocuses under deciduous trees. In the summer, the spots under these trees will be shady, but in the spring, the leaves are still coming in, meaning early-blooming bulbs will have a chance to thrive there.
- Crocuses make great shoes-and-socks plants with hellebores since they bloom around the same time—the short Crocuses will cover up the bare bases of the hellebores.
- Eremurus, nicknamed Foxtail Lily, is another early bloomer that does well in the shade, meaning they do great under deciduous trees. They also pair well with ornamental grasses, which help to keep Eremurus dry.
- Hyacinthoides, or Spanish Bluebells, grow particularly well with Azaleas.
- Don’t forget about edible plants! Lettuce and kale add beautiful texture and can be used as shoes-and-socks plants to flowering bulbs. Okra can also be a fun addition to flower gardens.
Overseeding with Bulbs
Whenever we plant bulbs, we like to overseed with annuals and biennials. When you disturb the soil to plant bulbs, you release a lot of seeds from weeds, so overseeding means you’re giving these other plants a chance to grow more quickly than the weeds. We like to overseed Violas and Larkspur with our flowering bulbs.
We often say how flowers are like the icing on the cake—flowers offer a lot of beauty, but they make up only about 10% of the garden, just like how icing makes up only 10% of the cake. It’s important to keep in mind the other parts of your landscape—annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, groundcovers, and all the rest—because that’s what rounds out your yard. By considering which bulbs and plants make great companions, you can create a lush and thriving garden!
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