Tulips are the darlings of our spring gardens, but as a fall-planted bulb, now is when we need to start thinking about them. Planting in the fall is like an investment in the future of your garden, and you’ll be amazed by all the rewards popping out of the ground when the weather warms in the spring!
Pairing With Tulips
While tulips create a spectacle in and of themselves, pairing them with other blooms can create an even more impressive display. You might want to choose plants that compliment any feature of your tulips — their color, their blooming time, or their bloom shape. Consider some of these perfect pairings to combine with your tulips:
Daylilies don’t bloom with tulips, but they follow them in the blooming cycle, so you can be sure that their bright foliage and boastful blooms will cover fading and yellowing tulips after their blooming is done. This is a pairing that is ideal for gardens that are looking for a longer-lasting blooming time that smoothly transitions from one main attraction to another, though it doesn’t have the same all-in-one impact as some other pairings.
Daylilies are great blooms that offer stunning single-day flowers, blooming one after each other for weeks of beauty. These perennials will bloom season after season following your tulips. Plant the bulbs in the spring or fall, in a spot that will get plenty of sunshine. Thankfully, daylilies are resistant to most pests, though they may experience some difficulty with daylily disease, a type of rust.
Crocuses are fellow spring bloomers that complement the look of tulips nicely. Play with height to create a nice overall look, with the generally taller tulips towering over the lower lying crocus that provide excellent socks-and-shoes groundcover. Planting tulips with crocus will help to keep your garden simple to care for with similar bulbs growing next to each other, but impressive in the early spring when they all bloom together. The complementing upward-facing shape of crocus next to tulips makes their show even more exciting!
Crocuses bloom from called corms and can be expected as one of the first spring-blooming blooms to emerge, filling your garden with their intoxicating scent. Plant the bulbs in the fall before a hard frost in well-draining soil. Enjoy these blooms without stress as deer, rodents, and other pests often leave them alone (meaning they can also keep your tulips safe as well!), while they do attract your local bees emerging from hibernation.
Pansies are one of the best annual flowers that will thrive in the cooler temperatures that tulips bloom in. The tones of pansies make great pairing with tulips, with their gorgeous, open faces with shades of purple, white, and yellow, though other color combinations are becoming increasingly popular, too.
These annuals need to be planted at the beginning of the spring season, but they thrive in the cooler temperatures before summer, making them ideal companions for tulips. Have fun with these one-season beauties without the commitment that other bulbs and perennials might require. Pansies are easiest to grow from starter plants, as their seeds can be temperamental. Plant as soon as the soil becomes workable — these tough plants can tolerate even mild frosts so don’t fear low overnight temperatures. Plant in well-draining soil and water deeply and often. While you might need to keep an eye out for fungus and small pests, like aphids, they are usually ignored by bigger garden nuisances like deer and rodents.
Daffodils are another spring-blooming perennial bulb that will create a reliable display for your garden, exploding with color in spring. Plant these bulbs in the fall with your tulips for an easy-to-care-for spring display in your garden. The shape of daffodils are perfectly made to complement your tulips, with some shared elements in their trumpet-shaped flowers, and other different features. Choose colors that emphasize each other, like contrasting hues.
Daffodils should be planted in the fall before the first frost in a spot of the garden that will receive full sun or partial shade in the spring. Daffodils are easy to grow and will not only tolerate a range of soil types, but are also very pest-resistant!
Bleeding Hearts create a fun contrast with your tulips with their downward facing blooms. This perennial shrub can consistently bloom with your tulips for a fabulous springtime display. This classic flower makes for an old-fashioned display of color that never gets old.
The key to a happy Bleeding Heart is to keep them uniformly moist, so frequent watering is ideal. Laying down an organic mulch can help to lock moisture in while also slowly breaking down to provide nutrients for this perennial, year after year. Once the foliage of your shrub starts to yellow and wither in the heat of summer, you can cut it down to the ground to prepare it for the next growth cycle next year.
Pairing your tulips with other bulbs, annuals, or perennials is the key to elevate them from charming to phenomenal. Try combining different colors, textures, styles, and blooming times to create a living display in your garden that catches the eye and celebrates the arrival of spring. While many of these bulbs can be planted in the fall with your tulips, there are plenty of annual options to choose from if you decide later in the year that you want to combine your tulips with another plant.
No matter which combination you choose, though, enjoy playing in your garden to make a springtime display that celebrates your tulips and the end of winter! These blooms and bulbs make great companions to elevate your tulips to the next level.
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