Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. As the cooler temperatures start to arrive in many parts of the country, the last thing on many people's minds is planting flowers for spring color in the garden. But, now is the perfect time to plant bulbs that will pack a punch of color to help usher out winter blues.
Start with a trip to your local nursery. When purchasing, look for heavy, dense bulbs with no decay, mold, or fungus. Bulbs should smell fresh and be free of cuts and bruises. Plant classics like daffodils and tulips or branch out with other textures, colors and heights with Fritillaria, Allium, Anemone and more.
Lasagna planting technique
The bulb planting technique of layering is also known as planting “lasagna-style.” Planting bulbs “lasagna-style” involves layering different bulb varieties in the same pot. Each bulb planted is selected based on its blooming times, planting depth and color.
By overlapping bulb bloom times you can create pots of long-lasting flowers and color. For three waves of bloom, select bulbs that bloom in early-spring, mid-spring, and late-spring. Bulb packages list bloom date information on the labels. When making bulb selections, consider choosing bulbs with overlapping bloom times so that the planting remains colorful all season.
Planting and positioning bulbs
Plant bulbs like you are making lasagna! Plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep, and so on. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Potting soil is the “sauce” and used as the layer under and over your bulbs.
- Choose a container that is at least 12-14 inches deep, with good drainage.
- Select a potting soil that includes a slow release fertilizer OR add bone meal to your potting soil according to the package instructions. Bone meal is rich in Phosphorous and will promote fall root growth.
- Add a 2-3 inch layer of soil and then plant the largest bulbs approximately 8-inches deep, smaller bulbs 5-inches deep. Be sure to read the bulb package for planting depths. Large sized bulbs may include (king Alfred) daffodil, allium, and tulip.
- Potting soil is the “sauce” and is used as the layer under and over your bulbs. Once the first layer of bulbs is in, add another layer of potting soil about 2-3 inches deep. Measure the depth from the top rim of your pot down, you should have about 6” more to plant.
- The next layer will be a bulb that is planted about 6 inches below the surface, examples include Dutch hyacinth or a jonquil Narcissus. Leave approx. ¼” space between each bulb. Remember to not overcrowd bulbs as they will swell once watering begins.
- Add more “sauce” and cover previous bulbs with about 1” inch of soil.
- The next layer will finish your container off with bulbs, look for smaller bulbs like grape hyacinth and/or crocus. Remember to leave a little space in between bulbs.
- Top off with five inches of potting soil and add some pansies or other colorful cool weather annuals to maintain seasonal interest.
- Finally, add mulch and water regularly.
Lasagna bulb combinations
- Pansy and mulch (top)
- Mulch (top)
- Grape Hyacinth
- Large Allium (bottom)
- Thyme (top)
- Daffodils (bottom)
A beautiful spring show of blooms
As spring arrives, place your container in a spot with high visibility and enjoy the waves of colorful flowers as they emerge, bloom and die back. As each new layer of blooms appears, the previous layer's leaves will remain. You can clean up faded or dead flowers, but don't remove the leaves as they provide energy back to the bulb for next year's growth. This is a great project to do with children and share the experience as each flower variety goes through its life cycle.
Recipe for Bulb Lasagna by Carolyn Neumann (published Sept. 17, 2012)