It can be tempting to cram daffodil or tulip bulbs into every available space in the yard as the frost of October ushers in bulb planting season and visions of a brilliant spring.
But Doris Taylor, a plant information specialist at The Morton Arboretum Plant Clinic, advises caution before planting bulbs around a tree.
Taylor claims that the area is too shaded for many bulbs to flourish. You should also keep your digging and root-slicing to a minimum for the sake of the tree.
Large, hefty bulbs like hyacinths and tulips should be planted in sunny locations far from trees. Choose plants with smaller bulbs for the area beneath a tree’s branches to cause the least amount of harm to the tree’s roots.
So that you just need to dig among the tree’s roots once to enjoy a spring show for years to come, you’ll also want spring-blooming bulbs that will live a long time and rebloom every year.
Early bloomers, which flower before the tree fully extends its awning of leaves, are your best choices. Taylor proposes crocuses, Siberian squills (Scilla siberica), snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), glory of the snow (Chionodoxa forbesii), and tiny early irises like Iris reticulata or I. danfordiae. Plant a lot of them, she advises. “A good display requires a lot of tiny bulbs,” someone once said.
The majority of spring-blooming bulbs demand full sun, although several varieties, like the Siberian squill, striped squill, checkered fritillary, and Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), can withstand some partial shade. Daffodil species that bloom early may also thrive in the shade of trees.
Taylor asserts that “bulbs need well-drained soil.” Plant the bulbs with the flat (root) end down and the pointed (stem) end up. Set the bulb on its side if you’re unsure; the plant will rise to the surface.
Because the bulbs won’t be very wide, you only need to plant them about three inches deep. Dig a hole that is three times as deep as the bulb is wide as a general rule. Avoid large tree roots by carefully digging with a narrow trowel or garden knife. or use a dibble, a pointed instrument designed to make holes in the ground. After planting, water thoroughly and apply a layer of mulch.
There is no need to add bone meal or any other fertilizer at planting because the soil in the Chicago area typically contains a plenty of phosphorus. After flowering, bulb plants need fertilizer so they can create the bulbs for the following year.
If you choose and plant your spring bulbs carefully, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of both your springtime flowers and the summertime shade of your tree for many years to come.
Can tulips be planted beneath a tree?
A location in every garden is required for hardy spring bulbs, like tulips. They appear in the early spring during the gloomy, gray days to add some color to the garden at a time when little else is green. Tulips, when planted correctly, can add a splash of color to the landscape for several years, but ultimately they lose their appeal and need to be replaced. Take special care when planting them to give them a robust start because they stay in the ground for a number of years.
The best assortment of tulip bulbs can be found in early October at nearby nurseries and garden centers. Choose tulip bulbs that are climate-adapted and go for those that are huge and hefty for their size. The skin of the bulbs should be dry and papery. Avoid bulbs that are flimsy or have mushy patches on them since these are signs of deterioration.
Numerous tulips can be found in each bulb catalog, but they can all be divided into one of four classes. Early-flowering tulips, like “General de Wet,” blossom in the late winter just after crocuses. They typically have solitary flowers on tall stems. Tulips in the midseason, like “Mendel” and “Triumph,” reach a height of 26 to 30 inches and come in a variety of hues. The blossoms remain a long time and may withstand storms in the dead of winter. Many more flamboyant types, such as the “Darwin tulips with egg-shaped blooms,” the “Lily flowered tulips with vase-shaped blooms,” and the magnificent “Parrot tulips with blooms with ruffled or fringed petals, are among the late-flowering variants. Species tulips, which are actually hybrids of various species, are the last type of tulip. Tulip species like T. greiggi and T. fosterana typically have short stems. Although these tulips bloom at different times, they often last longer than other varieties.
Plant the tulips that are most suitable for your area and gardening conditions while choosing them. Long-stemmed tulips are better suited in a mixed perennial bed, while short-stemmed tulips look great in the front of a perennial border. Tulips should be planted as annuals in warm climates since they require cold weather each winter to bloom successfully.
Choosing a Site for Planting Tulips
Tulips grow and flower best in areas that receive some spring sun, so plant them there. Planting them beneath deciduous trees typically works well because they will bloom before the trees generate leaves. Plant them in a mass planting, close together in perennial beds, or at the front of borders for the greatest results. If you have deer, plant tulips behind a fence; otherwise, think about planting daffodils, which deer often ignore.
Preparing the Soil for Tulip Planting
Tulips will rot in heavy, clay soils because they require well-drained soil to flourish properly. Before planting, amend your soil to a depth of 12 inches with compost or manure to increase texture and drainage. If your soil is exceptionally dense or moist, think about using raised beds.
For each tulip, create a 6 to 8 inch deep hole and fill it with dirt before adding 1 tablespoon of superphosphate or bulb food. For their roots to grow strongly, tulips require phosphorus.
Tulips should be planted in the early fall and up until the first frost. Plant them before the first freeze, but not too early that they rot or emerge from dormancy. This will allow them to establish some roots before the first freeze. With the pointed end of the nose facing up, place them in the hole and softly cover them with earth. Tulips should be placed 6 inches apart for a full display.
Add 2 to 3 inches of wood chip mulch to the soil to preserve moisture and control soil temperature.
To promote early root development, water the tulips right away after planting. Continue doing so throughout the winter, especially during dry spells. On dry, bright days when it is warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, drink water.
Tulips should only be fertilized with bulb fertilizer when they first appear in the spring because fertilizing them after the blooms have bloomed can restrict blossoming and promote decay.
The first year, tulips nearly always bloom profusely, but the subsequent years will see less blooming. Plan to completely redo the bed every five years or so, depending on the tulip type and the growing environment.
Can bulbs be planted near trees?
Planting flower bulbs beneath garden trees gives off a lovely aesthetic. However, it is not always successful to plant any bulbs beneath enormous trees due to the strong shadow provided by the trees, competition with their roots, and lack of moisture under these trees. A tree always prevails when competing with bulbs for nutrients, water, or light.
Planting for success – Give your bulbs a chance to survive and bloom
- Plant your bulbs beneath evergreens. Planting them under evergreen trees will prevent them from receiving enough light to develop and bloom.
- Make sure your trees (oaks, redbuds, hawthorns, and southern magnolias) have deep root systems or lots of surface roots, as well as tall limbs (casting light shade). Avoid trees with branches that are too close to the ground or with shallow or fibrous roots (such as sugar maples) (casting too much shade)
- Plant bulbs that bloom early; they will blossom before the tree’s leaf canopy has fully extended.
- Plant fall-blooming bulbs, such as autumn crocuses, to brighten shaded regions beneath trees at a time when few other bulbs are in bloom in the garden.
- Plant bulbs that grow in wooded regions tend to do so because some of them are acclimated to partial sunlight or even complete shadow.
- Plant perennial bulbs that grow naturally, so you only need to dig among the tree’s roots once to enjoy a spring display for years to come.
- Plant a lot of them because a spectacular display requires a lot of little bulbs.
Snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), grape hyacinths (Muscari), winter aconites (Eranthis), Siberian squills (Scilla siberica), snowflakes (Leucojum), bluebells (Hyacinthoides), early flowering daffodils (Narcissus), and many other lovely perennial bulbs grow nicely under trees.
They all appear magnificent as they make a carpet of flowers that dance in the filtered light beneath a stand of trees. As long as they receive the ideal lighting conditions and are planted in soil with the right drainage, they will emerge from the ground year after year and some will even slowly reproduce.
Where would be the ideal location to plant tulips?
The process of raising tulips is simple. Every bulb contains a lovely flower that is just waiting to bloom. Continue reading to find out how to start your tulips off right.
Good Soil Yields Better Results
Tulips grow best in crumbly, loose soil that is simple to cultivate and is very well drained. Critical is the well-drained portion. Too-wet soil might cause bulbs to decay. Tulips are planted in sand in Holland, ensuring that they are never in a damp environment.
Plant Like a Pro
Tulips look their best when planted in bunches of 50 or more bulbs, according to landscape architects. Per square foot, expect 9 to 12 lights. Give the bulbs a 2 to 3 inch gap between them for a complete look. The bulbs will be stretched if they are spaced at 4″, but they won’t appear as full.
Dig out the entire planting area to a depth of 6 to 8 inches, then quickly pile the soil on a tarp nearby to plant a lot of bulbs. After placing the bulbs in the hole, cover them with soil by sliding it off the tarp.
Stretch the Season with Different Types of Tulips
Some varieties of tulips open soon after the crocuses, while others do so before the peonies. Tulips can bloom for six weeks if you select types with various bloom times. Read: Tulips by Bloom Time to find out which varieties bloom when.
Give Them a Sunny Spot
Plant the bulbs in broad sun if at all possible. Your tulips will be able to grow to their fullest height and size as a result. Additionally, tulips thrive in partial shade and under deciduous trees. If the flowers are protected from the sweltering afternoon sun in hotter climates, they will live longer.
Switch Up the Planting Locations
Fungal diseases can affect tulip bulbs, especially if they are grown in a chilly, humid environment. After they have finished blooming, remove the old bulbs and plant new ones each fall to help reduce issues. Rotate planting sites if you can, giving the earth a 3-year break in between.
Plant Tulips Later Than Most Other Fall Bulbs
You should put off planting your tulip bulbs until November for two reasons. Because fungal growth is inhibited by cold temperatures, your bulbs will be less prone to illness. Planting later also allows you to escape the peak hoarding season for squirrels and chipmunks, which can cause difficulties with your bulbs being stolen.
Be Realistic About Second Year Flowers
Every year, the first spring after planting, tulips look their finest. Some tulips can bloom for more than a year if the soil and growing environment are perfect. However, you’ll typically just receive a few little blossoms or sometimes none at all. Simply remove the bulbs once they have finished blooming and plant new ones each fall for the greatest results.
Which bulbs can I grow beneath trees?
Best ten bulbs for shade
- Snowdrops. Snowdrops are perfect for a partially shaded or woodland-style garden because of their native woodland habitat.
- Anemones. Anemones, another essential plant for a woodland garden, can cover those drab, shaded regions in a carpet of blossoms.
Can you put flowers around a tree’s base?
The essential rules to remember when planting under trees are listed below.
Trim lower branches as necessary. You can plant farther apart and get more light under the tree by pruning a couple of the lowest limbs. Even if your chosen plants can tolerate some shadow, they still require some light to survive.
Do not construct a raised bed. In an effort to provide better soil for the blooms, the majority of gardeners make the error of constructing a raised bed around the base of the tree. Unfortunately, they risk damaging or even killing the tree if they do this. The surface roots of almost all trees need oxygen to survive. When mulch, soil, and compost are piled high around a tree, the roots are choked and deprived of oxygen. Additionally, the degradation of the tree’s lower trunk and roots may result from this. The tree will be practically dead in a few years, despite the fact that you will have a lovely flower garden.
Sow seeds in holes. Give each plant its own hole when planting beneath trees. Damage to the tree’s shallow root system can be prevented by carefully digging holes. Filling each hole with decomposed organic material will aid the plant. The base of the tree and other plants can then be covered with a light layer of mulch, no thicker than 3 inches (8 cm).
Don’t grow big plants. A garden beneath a tree can quickly get overrun by large, sprawling plants. Large plants will also block sunlight and the view of other smaller plants in the garden as they grow too tall for the space and attempt to encroach on the lower branches of the tree. For optimum results, stick to small, slow-growing plants.
After planting the flowers, give them water. Flowers that have recently been planted lack developed roots, which makes it challenging for them to obtain water, especially when they are fighting with the tree’s roots. On days when it doesn’t rain, water your plants every day for the first several weeks following planting.
Avoid damaging the roots when you plant. Avoid damaging the tree’s roots when creating new planting holes. Make little plant holes that are just big enough for them to fit in between roots. Fill the hole back in and start digging somewhere else if you run into a big root while excavating. Take extreme care not to separate large roots. To disrupt the tree as little as possible, it is advisable to use small plants and a hand shovel.
Plant the appropriate species. When planted beneath a tree, some flowers and plants thrive more than others. Plant flowers that will flourish in your planting zone as well.