Daffodils and tulips together

Daffodils and companions: Dig less, plant more! for a fabulous spring flower display

We’ve all heard the admonition to “measure twice, cut once.” I have my own rule of thumb for planting bulbs in fall: Dig once, plant twice! I love daffodils, but I never plant them alone. If I’m going to dig a hole for bulbs, I want maximum results for my efforts, so daffodils and companion bulbs get planted together. Always.

In general, bulbs should be planted at a depth equal to 2 to 3 times their diameter. For daffodil bulbs, that generally means digging a hole 4 to 6 inches deep. I like to plant bulbs in clumps. I think clumps of daffodils create a more natural, “naturalized” look than scattered single bulbs. It’s also much quicker to plant 100 daffodil bulbs by shoveling out a dozen holes for clumps of bulbs than by digging 100 little individual holes with a bulb planter.

I like to dig holes a foot or so across that can hold 5 or 7 bulbs, placed 4 or 5 inches apart. For a natural, “naturalized” look, avoid straight lines and squared-off groupings of bulbs. Circular clumps will work, but I like the look of “blobular” shapes. A handful of bulb food scattered in the hole will get your new purchases off to a good start. My grandmother, who was an artist, always said that everything looks better placed in odd numbers. So, I plant clumps of 3 or 7 bulbs rather than 2 or 8.

After you’ve placed the daffodil bulbs in the hole and filled it halfway with soil, you’ll have a hole of the perfect depth for planting smaller bulbs around and between them. Think about the effect you’d like to create, in terms of both color and bloom time.

For an earlier show of color, when the tips of the daffodil leaves have barely begun to emerge, plant handfuls of crocus bulbs around and between the lower daffodil bulbs. Snow crocus (Crocus chrysanthus), “tommies” (C. tommasinianus), and C. sieberi are the earliest bloomers, followed by the larger Dutch or Giant Crocus, C. vernus. The blooming daffodils will hide the fading crocus foliage, for a lovely succession of spring color.

There’s an assortment of “little blue bulbs” to choose from that are wonderful accents for yellow and white daffodils. Some people scatter companion bulbs among the daffodil blooms. I like to plant little bulbs in “sweeps” so their color is a less subtle accent. The “river” of grape hyacinths running between banks of ‘Thalia’ daffodils is a landmark at the Keukenhof’s famous spring display. A much smaller “streamlet” of grape hyacinths curves along the border of my front landscape bed, setting off the ‘Geranium’ and ‘Replete’ daffodils there.

Pay attention to bloom times when choosing companion bulbs. Grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) and species tulips generally bloom with mid to late season daffodils, while Scilla, Iris reticulata, and windflowers (Anemone blanda) will bloom with earlier daffodils. Planting multiple varieties of both daffodils and companions for extended bloom times will ensure that you’ll have great color combinations each year.

In addition to other bulbs, consider other perennials as daffodil companions. Last fall, I planted a few handfuls of miniature daffodil bulbs around my dwarf irises. I love the combination of the delicate daffodil bells with the bolder blooms and foliage of the irises. I don’t know if their timing will be the same next year, but I hope so! Daffodils are good to plant with spring blooming perennials, and they are also great companions for late-emerging perennials such as daylilies, bronze fennel, and peonies. They take turns and play nicely with others. First, the daffodils emerge and put on a show. As the daffodil foliage starts dying back, the summer perennials take over.

Some shrubs are especially good companions for spring blooming bulbs, also. The blooms of Azaleas, Forsythia, Japonica, and Lilacs complement or echo the colors of daffodils and other spring blooming bulbs. I have a dwarf ‘Ramopo’ rhododendron by my front entrance that blooms at exactly the same time as some nearby ‘Tete a Tete’ miniature daffodils. With several different daffodils and a variety of “little blue bulbs” in our front garden, there’s always something flowering when the azalea bushes burst into bloom.

Whether you’re ordering daffodil bulbs or perennial plants for fall planting this year, make your digging do double duty. Purchase some little companion bulbs to plant around and between whatever else you’re planting. Next spring, you’ll be rewarded with extra splashes of color all over your garden!

For more about planting daffodils, see this DG article on Daffodils by Gloria Cole. Also look for Todd Boland’s articles on many of the “little blue flowers” mentioned here.

Photos by Jill M. Nicolaus. Move your mouse over the photos for image info.

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on September 18, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)

Learn About Daffodil Bulbs

Common Disease Problems

Bacterial Soft Rot: This is mostly an issue with on mature bulbs. Affected scales first appear water-soaked and pale yellow to light brown or bleached gray to white. As the disease progresses, infected tissue becomes soft and sticky with the interior of the bulb breaking-down. A watery, foul-smelling thick liquid can be squeezed from the neck of diseased bulbs. It is spread by water and some insects through wounds on the plant. Burpee Recommends: Be sure to plant in a well-drained soil. Remove infected plants.

Basal Rot: This fungus invades the bulb through the roots and basal plate. It causes premature die back of the foliage and the bulb becomes brown and mummified from the basal plate up. It is more prevalent in warm, moist soils. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected bulbs. Avoid fresh manure or excessive nitrogen from fertilizing. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds causing the leaves to stick together. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Neck Rot: This disease spreads from the neck of the bulb to the main body of the plant. It is caused by several fungal diseases. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected bulbs. Avoid fresh manure or excessive nitrogen from fertilizing. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Virus (Various causes): The most characteristic sign of virus is yellow stripes on the leaves that are more apparent as the foliage emerges. There are also mosaic viral diseases that affect daffodils. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants. Control aphids which can spread the disease.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Narcissus Fly: There is a small and a large narcissus fly. These are mostly a problem of bulbs in storage and they mostly attack damaged bulbs. Small maggots are found in the bulb. Burpee Recommends: Discard any infested bulbs. Keep narcissus separate from snowdrops, another host plant.

Slugs: These pests leave large holes in the foliage or eat leaves entirely. They leave a slime trail, feed at night and are mostly a problem in damp weather. Burpee Recommends: Hand pick, at night if possible. You can try attracting the slugs to traps either using cornmeal or beer. For a beer trap, dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole; use something that has steep sides so that the slugs can’t crawl back out when they’re finished. Fill the bowl about ¾ of the way full with beer, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, the bowl should be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. For a cornmeal trap, put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and put it on its side near the plants. Slugs are attracted to the scent but they cannot digest it and it will kill them. You can also try placing a barrier around your plants of diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds. They cannot crawl over these.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Swift Moths: These are caterpillars that make holes in the outer scales of the bulbs. Burpee Recommends: Remove weeds and grass where the moth lays its eggs.

Daffodils

For many gardeners, large bright blooms of Daffodils are the first visible signs of spring. These vigorous, long-lived bulbs thrive in sunny, well-drained places, are shunned by hungry deer and voles, and will prosper and multiply with little care on your part, creating a glorious Daffodil landscape and a horticultural legacy. Whether it’s a stretch of grass along the drive or behind a swing set, or the ground beneath a stand of Apple trees, you can create magic by naturalizing Daffodils in most any space. At the front of the border choose daintier Daffodils with narrow leaves (generally from the Triandrus and Jonquilla sections) and shorter varieties from our Miniature Daffodils.

One of our customer favorites has the whole spectrum of Daffodil types: Double, Large-cupped, Small-cupped, Trumpet, Jonquilla, Split-corona, Tazetta, Poeticus – in other words, just about every type except Miniatures. The Works – Narcissus for Naturalizing comprises 100 large bulbs of the best and most vigorous modern Daffodils, blended from no less than 30 varieties, no more than five of each.

Trumpet Daffodils
These are the classic flowers of spring, the ones that come to mind when you imagine a “host of golden Daffodils.” Trumpets are the best Daffodils for bedding, with a single big, bold flower per stem. They generally perform better in the middle and northern states then they do in the Deep South. A Daffodil is officially classified as a Trumpet when the cup, or corona, is as long as or longer than the perianth. Some common varieties are ‘Dutch Master’, the successor to the venerable ‘King Alfred’ as the all-around best Daffodil money can buy, and ‘Mount Hood’, an outstanding white Trumpet that made its debut in 1937 and has continued to win awards over the years.

Large-Cupped Daffodils
These are the workhorses of the Daffodil world because they’re good for every possible use: bedding, cutting, naturalizing, forcing, and showing. This class includes the full color range: white, every shade of yellow, orange, red, and pink. All bear one flower per stem with two or more stems per bulb.

Double Daffodils
Instead of a trumpet, these Daffodils have a central cluster of petals and are almost roselike in form. Doubles have from one to as many as 20 flowers per stem and are good for show, bedding, and cutting.

Jonquilla Daffodils
Several small, fragrant flowers per stem are held above narrow, grasslike, dark green leaves. The bulbs naturalize well, creating beautiful sweeps of color. This Daffodil group likes hot, baking summer sun. It is well adapted to the Deep South but also thrives in cooler parts of the country. There are two or more stems per bulb.

Miniature Daffodils
This group includes every form of Daffodil flower in a petite package, usually 6in or shorter. These little bulbs are excellent for rock gardens, the front of the border, niches between tree roots, and forcing. They are also beautiful in patio containers if protected from freezing north of Zone 7. The bulbs vary in size, but most are the largest grade available and produce two or more flower stems per bulb.

Small-cupped Daffodils
Crisp, brilliant colors characterize this group of long-lived perennials. They are great for naturalizing and contribute rich color to a mixed border in the spring. The flowers are also superb for cutting. Each stem bears a single flower.

Split-corona Daffodils
These are unusual flowers, quite unlike most Daffodils. The cup is split for at least one-half its length, creating an open face instead of the typical trumpet. Many of the flowers look more like a Hibiscus than they do a Daffodil. One of the showiest groups for mass plantings in the landscape, these large, up-facing blossoms provide more color for the dollar.

Daffodils – How to Care for Your Bulbs

Light/Watering: While Daffodils prefer full sun they will usually tolerate half-day shade, especially Cyclamineus hybrids such as ‘Jack Snipe’ and the Poeticus variety ‘Actaea.’ Those cultivars with orange, red, or pink cups generally retain deeper color when planted in a location that receives protection from the hot afternoon sun. Watering during the fall is essential for good root growth before the ground freezes in cold regions. Try not to water excessively in the summer months when bulbs are dormant.

Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Daffodil bulbs will not survive in soils that are wet, especially during the winter. Avoid low-lying areas where water gathers or where the snow is late to melt in spring. Plant bulbs at a depth three times their height. Daffodil bulbs appreciate deep planting in light soil. If your soil is heavy, try planting less deeply than we recommend, making up the difference with a layer of mulch on top. Plant larger or bedding-size bulbs 5-6 in. apart (4-5 bulbs per sq. ft.), smaller or landscape-size bulbs 3-4 in. apart (5 bulbs per sq. ft.), and the miniatures 3-4 in. apart (10-15 bulbs per sq. ft.). When planting, keep in mind that the blooms tend to face the prevailing direction of the sun; in a border viewed from the north, they will look away from you. Do not separate bulbs that are attached at the base; the smaller bulb (known as an off-set or a “daughter” bulb) should not be detached from the parent bulb before planting. The best time to fertilize is in the autumn, when the bulbs are sending out new roots. To make clumps of Daffodils easy to find, plant a few Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) amongst them; the Grape Hyacinths send up a bit of leaf growth in the fall. The next best time to fertilize is in early spring, just as the Daffodil foliage begins to push through the soil. We recommend using a granular slow-release fertilizer formulated especially for bulbs.

Pests/Diseases: Few if any pests bother Daffodils. The bulbs and foliage are poisonous to most insects and animals, including deer and voles. If you see vertical streaks in the Daffodil leaves, dig up the bulb and put it in the trash as it may be infected with a virus. Watch any surrounding Daffodils for symptoms as the virus is spread by contact.

Companions: Narcissus reach dormancy 6 to 12 weeks after flowering depending on weather and variety. The period between the end of flowering and the withering of the foliage is crucial to the future vigor of the plant. If you cut, fold, or braid the leaves before they have yellowed and collapsed, you may prevent the bulb from storing the energy required to bloom the following year. You can hide curing foliage by interplanting bulbs with leafy perennials such as Hostas, Daylilies, and Ferns or with annuals or ground covers like Brunnera or Vinca. If you plant the bulbs in a lawn, do not mow the grass until the bulb foliage begins to yellow. Daffodils do well under deciduous trees, but avoid planting under evergreens and in areas where large roots are close to the surface.

Dividing/Transplanting: The best time to move or divide bulbs is when their foliage has withered, signaling the end of active growth. Lift them with a digging fork or a spade, taking care to avoid injuring the bulbs, and replant them immediately at the same depth and about three times their diameter apart. Water well.

End of Season Care: Remove dried up foliage after it has died down completely. A mulch of evergreen boughs after the ground freezes may help plants stay dormant if warm periods occur during the winter months.

Calendar of Care

Early Spring: Fertilize now if you missed the fall opportunity.

Late Spring: Water if the season has been dry, and deadhead as needed. Watch for vertical lines in the foliage and remove and destroy any bulbs showing signs of viral infection.

Summer: Try not to overwater in areas where Daffodils are planted. Allow foliage to cure naturally without intervention.

Fall: Use a granular slow-release fertilize to feed Daffodil bulbs now. Gently lift and divide clumps of bulbs now. Plant new bulbs and include a few Grape Hyacinths to mark the planting spot. Remove dead foliage, and mulch with evergreen boughs after the ground has frozen. Water bulb plantings thoroughly through the fall if rain is scarce.

What to grow with tulips

Tulips don’t have to perform as a formal stand-alone display in pots or borders. They also look great in mixed displays, with complementary and contrasting flowers and foliage.

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Contrasting colours and shapes of other plants can accentuate the bold form and colours of tulips. Before the buds open, fresh new growth from lower growing plants will create a textured backdrop. While in flower, similar or contrasting palettes will bring out the colour of the blooms. And, once the tulips are past their best, mixed planting will help disguise fading blooms and untidy foliage.

Choose plants that thrive in sun and free-draining soil – the same growing conditions as tulips. Also, consider their flowering times and plan for succession of colour or foliage interest. Experiment with different combinations in pots, as well as the border.

More on growing tulips:

  • How to grow tulips
  • Early tulips to grow
  • Six tips for planting tulips
  • Eight late tulips to grow

Find out which plants will look good growing with tulips, below.

Forget-me-not

As spring advances, forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica, becomes a carpet of bright green leaves topped with clouds of small, rich blue flowers. It makes a wonderful soft backdrop for tulips of all colours, and the long-lasting forget-me-nots will provide interest once the tulips have faded. Here they grow with tulip ‘China Pink’.

Box

Box, Buxus sempervirens, adds a contrasting shape and structure to the planting scheme, creating a contemporary look. These clipped box balls have been interplanted with deep red tulip ‘Pretty Woman’, leathery-leaved Hosta sieboldiana, pale pink aquilegia and bleeding heart. The lush foliage of the softer plants and the delicate, nodding flowers accentuates the formality of the tulips and the well-clipped box.

Red hebe

With lollipop stems topped with striking red blooms, these tulips pop up among a patch of low-growing red-leaved hebe. Hebe is a natural fit in terms of sharing the same requirements for sun and well-drained soil, but also forms a shrubby backdrop, which sets off the colour and form of the tulips.

Honesty

Honesty, Lunaria annua, works beautifully with the elegant dark purple tulip ‘Queen of the Night’. A pretty biennial, honesty has white or purple flowers. When allowed to naturalise in a border, it contrasts well with the bold, formal tulips. Honesty is also grown for its distinctive translucent seed heads, which are used in dried flower arrangements.

Bronze fennel

The delicate, finely divided foliage of bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’, makes a good foil for many different colours. Here it provides a lovely contrast with tulip ‘Queen of Night’, bringing an informal mood to the display. Florence fennel works equally in ornamental borders with the added bonus of appealing to insects and birds.

Bluebells

With its familiar blue flowers growing en masse through April and May, our native bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, makes the perfect companion for tulips. Here, it grows in the foreground with tulips, including ‘Irene’, ‘West Point’ and ‘Ronaldo’, pop up behind from low-growing foliage. Plant tulips among large bluebell clumps, for a meadow-like display.

Wallflowers

Tulips can work in areas of dappled shade, flowering before trees come into leaf. Light up the edge of a woodland scheme with yellow and white tulips, such as tulip ‘West Point’ and ‘White Triumphator’. Team them with a mass of spring flowers and foliage plants. Try a mix of wallflower ‘Sunset Primrose’ or ‘Sunset Apricot’ with fresh green ferns to fill in the gaps.

Tiarella

It’s worth trying out different planting combinations in containers. Here, pink tulips are planted with pink bluebells and tiarella for a combination inspired by plants that might grow together at the edge of a woodland glade. The fluffy flowerheads and lobed leaves of the tiarella contrast and soften the display, as well as disguise the bare stems and foliage of the tulips.

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Choose plants that thrive in sun and free draining soil – the same growing conditions as tulips. Also consider their flowering times – ideally plan for succession of colour or foliage interest.

More plants to grow in with tulips

  • Alchemilla mollis
  • Primula
  • Erysimum ‘Bedding Mixed’

Along with daffodils, tulips are among the most anticipated plants to appear each year, blooming over a long period of time in nearly every colour imaginable. Below you will surely find partners for those in your collection already. Or you might want to use some of the suggestions below to make up a shopping list of new ones to add to your gardens next fall. Many multi-plant partnerships outlined below, and on other pages on our site, appear in the books written by Patrick Lima and in the wonderful photographs taken by his partner, John Scanlan, of their gardens called Larkwhistle on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Read more of their suggestions in

  • THE HARROWSMITH PERENNIAL GARDEN – FLOWERS FOR THREE SEASONS
  • THE ART OF PERENNIAL GARDENING – CREATIVE WAYS WITH HARDY FLOWERS

Both books are part of my most treasured garden literature and provide new ideas and inspiration with every reading. Add them to your own collection soon. Tulips are classified as belonging in one of 15 divisions. For valuable information about tulips as well as other bulbs visit Florissa. Links from their page will lead you to Bulb Basics, Bulb History, Spring-flowering Bulbs, Summer-flowering Bulbs, FAQs and more. * Watch for the animated hummingbird and butterfly with the plants that attract them. *
The deer icon indicates plants that deer are not usually attracted to.The best time and method to propagate plants can be found on our image-intensive PROPAGATION page. To help your plants grow their best, check out our FERTILIZATION page. To create your own plant partnerships based on tried and true color theory, check out our GARDEN COLOR page. To see if a particular plant is on this page press Ctrl+F, type in the name, then click the Find button. TULIPA
IN GENERAL Tulipa: in general

    with: later-starting plants requiring infrequent division i.e. Anemone japonica, Aster x frikartii, Heliopsis with: Dicentra, Euphorbia epithymoides, Iberis sempervirens with: Hemerocallis (to hide the dying foliage of the bulbs), Hesperis matronalis interplanted with: Epimedium, Primula with: Hosta with: masses of co-blooming Viola cornuta combined in shade with: Helleborus & Mertensia virginica

TULIPA
BY BLOOM TIME Tulipa: early

    with: Anemone blanda combined with: Allium (early) & Iris x germanica (Intermediate types)

Tulipa: May blooming

    with: Doronicum caucasicum, Leucojum aestivum, Scilla sibirica

Tulipa: spring to early summer blooming

    with: Aquilegia x hybrida (large pastel-coloured flowers & long spurs) with: Astilbe (to hide the dying foliage of the bulbs)

Tulipa: late season

    with: Dicentra eximia, Dicentra spectabilis, Endymion hispanicus combined with: Phlox subulata (white or pink), Iberis sempervirens & Aurinia saxatilis with: Doronicum caucasicum, Allium aflatunense & Dicentra spectabilis (white or pink)

Tulipa: double late peony-flowered

    with: Iris x germanica (blue)

TULIPA
BY SIZE Tulipa: miniature

    with: Helleborus orientalis

Tulipa: species types


    seen in the photo above growing through a mat of double white Arabis with: Mertensia virginica, Muscari under: Veronica repens with: Pulmonaria, Brunnera macrophylla, Dicentra, Aquilegia

TULIPA
BY COLOUR Tulipa: any colour

    in front of: tall plants such as Nepeta sibirica that will cover their dying foliage

Tulipa: any bright colour that needs toning down

    with: Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’ (with starry blue spikes)

Tulipa: pastel shades

    with: Primula

Tulipa: cream-coloured

    combined with: Eremurus himalaicus (white) & Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’

Tulipa: crimson (a cool red on the blue side of the spectrum)

    with: Dicentra (pink)

Tulipa: crimson and/or rose

    interplanted with: Myosotis behind edger of Iberis sempervirens beside: Iris florentina (gray-blue) all above plants in front of: pink-flowered apple tree or white Syringa vulgaris bushes

Tulipa: lavender

    with: Bergenia cordifolia, Salvia x superba ‘East Friesland’

Tulipa: lavender & cherry

    with: pink Flowering Crabapple tree

Tulipa: magenta-red double early

    with: Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’

Tulipa: mauve

    with: Bergenia cordifolia

Tulipa: mauve & creamy yellow

    with: Lunaria biennis (white or magenta), all behind Aubrieta deltoidea all in front of: Spiraea thunbergii (dwarf early white Bridalwreath Spirea shrub)

Tulipa: orange

    with: yellow Aurinia saxatilis

Tulipa: soft orange

    combined with: yellow Doronicum caucasicum, yellow Aurinia saxatilis & white Iberis sempervirens

Tulipa: strong orange

    with: Phlox subulata ‘Atropurpurea’

Tulipa: pink

    combined with: Veronica gentianoides (ice-blue), pink Dicentra & Bellis perennis with: Bellis perennis, Myosotis (of a similar shade), Salvia x superba ‘East Friesland’ between: Centaurea dealbata rosea & Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’

Tulipa: pink, lavender & plum

    near: Dicentra spectabilis (pink) filling spaces between: clumps of Salvia ‘East Friesland’

Tulipa: pink & white

    with: Brunnera macrophylla (sky-blue)

Tulipa: pale pink

    with: Phlox subulata ‘Atropurpurea’

Tulipa: vibrant pink

    with: Myosotis

Tulipa: plum-coloured

    with: Bergenia cordifolia, Salvia x superba ‘East Friesland’

Tulipa: dark plum & mauve

    in front of: Rosa rubrifolia (a shrub rose) near: Pulsatilla vulgaris (silvery mauve seedheads will be present at same time) behind: Phlox amoena (rosy)

Tulipa: dark purple

    behind: Phlox subulata (pink)

Tulipa: red

    with: Bellis perennis, Iberis sempervirens, Muscari under: Myosotis (blue) under a white-flowered apple tree

Tulipa: bright red

    with: Muscari, Myosotis with: Lunaria annua (Money Plant, Honesty)

Tulipa: a crimson red

    with: Nepeta x faassenii behind: Phlox subulata (pink)

Tulipa: late-blooming red

    with: Veronica pectinata ‘Rosea’ (rose-pink with soft gray-green foliage)

Tulipa: scarlet (a warm red leaning to orange)

    with: Dicentra spectabilis (white)

Tulipa: white Tulipa: late-blooming white

    with: Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Godaishu’ (‘Five Continents’)

Tulipa: white & green like ‘Spring Green’ (see below)

    with: Polygonatum odoratum

Tulipa: yellow Tulipa: yellow & lavender

    with: Iris x germanica (tall deep purple) with: Phlox maculata ‘Miss Lingard’ & Linum perenne combined with: Iris x germanica (violet or purple Intermediate) & Allium aflatunense,

      all behind Nepeta ‘Dropmore Blue’, all in front of Ribes odoratum ‘Aureum’

Tulipa: pale yellow

    with: Nepeta x faassenii

Tulipa: white lily-flowered

    under: Pulmonaria rubra near: Dicentra spectabilis & Endymion hispanicus (also called both Scilla campanulata and Hyacinthoides hispanicus) beside: Hosta

Tulipa: yellow lily-flowered

    under: Doronicum ‘Finesse’ (shorter than the common D. caucasicum) near: Mertensia virginica or Brunnera macrocephala

TULIPA
BY SPECIES Tulipa clusiana:

    with: Phlox subulata (pink & most colours)

Tulipa kaufmanniana:

    with: Chionodoxa de luciliae, Phlox subulata (especially pink), Phlox subulata (most colours)

Tulipa tarda:


    with other bulbs: Anemone blanda, Chionodoxa de luciliae, Narcissus ‘Hawera’, Tulipa turkestanica

Tulipa turkestanica:


    seen in their first year above, before the critters ate them all – we intend to try them again soon with: Stachys byzantina, Muscari armenaicum, Tulipa tarda

TULIPA
BY CULTIVAR NAME Tulipa ‘Angelique’: pale rose on cream, 12-14″, semi-double, late-blooming

    where: front of border with: Tulipa ‘May Wonder’ (these are perfect together)

Tulipa ‘Apricot Beauty’:


    a lovely cultivar – plant some this fall for a wonderful showing next spring

Tulipa ‘Apricot Parrot’: 15″ Parrot type, apricot-yellow

    with: white bloomers, some pinks and purple shades

Tulipa ‘Atilla’: 16″ purple mid-season Triumph type

    with: white shades

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’: reddish-orange lily-flowered type

    behind: Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’, near Allium aflatunense & Tulipa ‘Queen of the Night’ (a dark purple),

      all in front of a Syringa vulgaris shrub

Tulipa ‘Bellona’: an early yellow

    combined with: Narcissus ‘Yellow Cheerfulness’, Muscari (blue) & Fritillaria imperialis (a yellow form)

Tulipa ‘Blue Parrot’: fringed and ruffled


    this beautiful cultivar can be seen in the border around this page and in the images at the top of the page and directly above above growing up through: white Viola with: Myosotis, marigolds over: Muscari

Tulipa ‘Blushing Beauty’: 3′ canary-yellow single late-blooming

    where: large plantings, deep mixed borders

Tulipa’Burgundy Lace’


    a fringed type as seen above

Tulipa ‘Couleur Cardinal’: early crimson

    behind: double-flowered Arabis caucasica combined with: Arabis albida ‘Flore Plena’, Mertensia virginica & Narcissus (late white)

Tulipa ‘Cum Laude’


    a lovely pink form as seen above with the turquoise of a neighbour’s peacock in the background

Tulipa ‘Dance’: early Fosteriana type

    where: along a front walk

Tulipa ‘Dillenburg’: very late, peachy-orange

    with: Aurinia saxatilis combined with: Veronica whitleyi (early-blooming soft blue), Iris x germanica (lemon yellow Intermediate) &

      Allium aflatunense

    combined with: Phlox subulata (lavender-blue), Iris (cream to orange early Bearded type) & Dicentra spectabilis (white) combined with: Iris x germanica (a yellow Intermediate) & Viola ‘Arkwright Ruby’ as an edger under: a white-flowered apple or pear tree

Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’: creamy striped and brushed with crimson


    with: Tulipa ‘White Parrot’

Tulipa ‘Fringed Elegance’: lemon-yellow, a Darwin hybrid type

    with: Scilla sibirica under or behind: Stachys lanata

Tulipa ‘General de Wet’: a citrus-scented, soft orange etched with red

    with: Muscari echo with: Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ (double white with orange flecks) in front of: Fritillaria imperialis

Tulipa ‘Golden Apeldoorn’: yellow

    with: white or yellow & white Narcissus

Tulipa ‘Hibernia’: 16″ white (with a hint of green) mid-season Triumph type

    with: the most exotic shades of other co-bloomers

Tulipa ‘Lilac Perfection’: lilac 20″ double late tulip, a peony look-alike

    where: prominent position in the garden

Tulipa ‘Little Beauty’: dark red with blue eyes, a 2-3″ dwarf

    where: front of border with other bulbs: Tulipa tarda, Anemone blanda (blue), other species Tulipa under larger bulbs: Narcissus ‘Thalia’

Tulipa ‘Mariette’: deep rose, 25″, mid-season lily-flowered type

    with: Myosotis

Tulipa ‘Maureen’: tall white

    in front of: Prunus triloba ‘Multiplex’ behind: Veronica gentianoides (ice-blue)

Tulipa ‘May Wonder’:

    perfect companion with: Tulipa ‘Angelique’ (pale rose on cream, semi-double, late)

Tulipa ‘Menton’: rose-pink 24″ single late

    with: deep pinks, reds and creams

Tulipa ‘Mount Hood’: white Trumpet

    with: Tulipa ‘Red Emperor’

Tulipa ‘New Design’: pink and white with white-edged foliage

    with: Phlox subulata ‘Scarlet Flame’ (a bright pink)

Tulipa ‘Niphetos’: lily-flowered

    with: Phlox subulata (white), Iris (dwarf apricot) & Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Tulipa ‘Ollioules’: 20-24″, a Darwin hybrid

    in front of: Tulipa ‘Pink Impression’

Tulipa ‘Orange Emperor’: soft orange

    combined with: Narcissus (with orange, apricot or pink cups) & Mertensia virginicia (turquoise)

Tulipa ‘Orange Favorite’: a parrot type

    with: Rudbeckia fulgida speciosa ‘Goldsturm’

Tulipa ‘Pink Diamond’: pale pink single late

    combined with: Tulipa ‘Maureen’ (white) over Myosotis

Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’: maroon, 29″, single late

    with: soft lavender and cream Tulipa

Tulipa ‘Queen of Sheba’: lily-flowered, red with a yellow edge

    for a colour echo in front of: Euonymus (one with a chartreuse-yellow colour)

Tulipa ‘Red Emperor’: 18″, early, Fosteriana type

    with: Muscari with: white Trumpet Narcissus ‘Mount Hood’

Tulipa ‘Renown’: pink Tulipa ‘Rosy Wings’: a light coral shade

    behind: Allium karataviense

Tulipa ‘Spring Green’: white with green markings

    in front of: Myrrhis odorata in light shade amid: white Lamium maculatum for all-white effect with Leucojum aestivum & Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’

Tulipa ‘Sweet Harmony’: butter coloured

    with: Aurinia saxatilis combined with: Phlox subulata (lavender-blue), Iris (cream to orange early Bearded type) & Dicentra spectabilis (white)

Tulipa ‘West Point’: yellow, lily-flowered

    drifted in front of: Euphorbia epithymoides combined with: Phlox subulata (white), Iris (dwarf apricot) & Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Tulipa ‘White Cascade’: 18″, mid-season Triumph

    with: anything (it complements every colour)

Tulipa ‘White Parrot’: 23″, pure white, Parrot type, late-blooming

    with: Tulipa ‘Estella Rijnveld’

Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’: miniature 8″, pink crocus-like, deeper rosy-purple veining & yellow center and stamens

    above with: the wonderful foliage of Geranium renardii where: rock gardens, niches in terraces, window boxes

Tulipa greigii ‘Donna Bella’:

    with: gentian-blue Chionodoxa sardensis

Tulipa greigii ‘Oriental Splendour’: orange-red-yellow

    with: Tulipa greigii ‘Oxford’s Elite’ (scarlet) both underplanted with: Viola (one with lots of yellow for accent)

Tulipa praestans ‘Fusilier’: 12″, orange-red

    with: Anemone blanda, Myosotis

Tulipa: Darwin

    behind: Cheiranthus

FOR MORE BULBS & THEIR COMPANIONS, FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW.

  • Allium to Hyacinthus>
  • Narcissus only
  • Minor Bulbs – Chionodoxa to Scilla

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This weekend marks the end of this year’s tulip bloom. The last of the flowers will take their final bow and step off the stage this week. Sad, yes, but much more joy. What a glorious season despite the vagaries of weather varmints. I will revel in the memories of such exquisite and luxurious blooms all summer and into the fall when I begin to orchestrate the next chorus of bloom.

Over the years I’ve planted more tulips than I can count, and through trial and error I’ve learned a few things about designing with these beautiful flowers that I’d like to share.

Bold color blocking is the way to go, so be generous.
I’ve never regretted planting too many bulbs in the fall, even though my back might say otherwise. I like to see 25 or more bulbs in a single area. The visual impact can’t be over estimated. Even better, planting a large amount of tulips in a single color results in a blanket of color that will catch the eye even from a distance.

Mix up the flower shapes.
The range of bloom shape and form is exciting, if not daunting…given all of the choices these days. But, be fearless. One can hardly go wrong. The slender and elegant Lily-Flowered next to peony types, those set again juxtaposed Darwin and cottage forms all will sing together. Like the large and wide ranging cast in a musical…everyone brings a voice and presence.

Early to late.
When I see the first bloom I get greedy…I hear my inner self saying “Give me more, more,
more!” Choosing early bloomers as well as mid and late season bloomers will extend the pleasure of having these in your life. This is a great way to plant bulbs even if you are growing them in containers.

Color preferences are personal.
Among the tulips you have just about any color you can find on a paint store color fan. I tend to prefer to creat themes…like all pinks and purples. Or a range of whites and cream…pushing it a bit with the palest butter yellow. Or, go bold with contrasting colors of purple orange and red for a retina gripping comb. The possibilities are endless.

Mix it up with good bedfellows.
I delight in seeing a cacophony of other cool season plants chiming in as companions with my tulips, anything goes. I frequently uses the usual suspects like violas and pansies, or perennials such as coral bells and hosta. Vegetables, or edibles, can also add flare. Consider the bolting pink blooms of radishes (last fall’s late crop) or the sulphur yellow flowers of turnips, kale and collards to accent your tulips.

15 Great Companion Plants for Tulips

Cool Season Annuals

  • Nemesia
  • Viola
  • Pansies
  • Kale
  • Snapdragons

Reliable Perennials

  • Coral Bells
  • Hosta
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Candytuft
  • Strawberry Begonias
  • Lamb’s Ear
  • Sedge ‘Ogon’
  • Dianthus

I’m always learning and I take great joy in trying new colors, combinations and plant palettes. Nature itself brings an overall harmony to the garden so that whatever we do we can never go wrong.

To learn more about designing with Tulips, check out the video below!

Companion Plants For Daffodils: What To Plant With Daffodils

“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty. Violets dim, but sweeter than the kids of Juno’s eye.” Shakespeare described a natural pair of spring woodland companion plants in A Winter’s Tale. He goes on to mention primrose, oxlips and lilies, plants which grow naturally as daffodil companion plants. Natural groups of flowers that bloom in succession or a complimentary way have inspired artists and poets for centuries. Companion planting allows even a small flower patch to be inspiring.

Companion Planting with Daffodils

Companion planting is planting different plants near each other to enhance each other’s beauty, growth, and flavor or to protect each other from pests. Companion planting is also used to maximize space in the garden.

Daffodils make great companion plants because they provide warm, sunny color in the spring, are easy to tuck in amongst already established plants, and deter pests. Daffodils bloom when many flowering shrubs and perennials are just waking from their winter dormancy. Their bulbs also contain a toxin that only a few insects can eat and deters deer, rabbits and other rodents. Squirrels may dig them up, but they don’t eat them.

Daffodils bloom in early spring for about six weeks, then their flowers die back, leaving green grassy foliage that the bulb drains energy from to prepare it for a long dormancy and next year’s new growth. Daffodil foliage should only be cut back once it turns yellow and withers. Yellowing patches of daffodil foliage can look bad, so good companion plants for daffodils will fill in at this time, covering the unsightly mess.

Because of their early spring color and pest deterrence, use daffodils as companion plants for flowers that bloom later or are garden pest’s favorite.

What to Plant with Daffodils

When companion planting with daffodils, you’ll want to include other spring-flowering plants that complement the yellow hues in daffodils. As Shakespeare mentioned, the dark green foliage and small but deep purple blooms of violets set against the grassy green foliage and bright yellow flowers of daffodils add an eye-catching contrast to an early spring landscape.

Other bulbs that bloom beautifully next to daffodils include:

  • Tulips
  • Muscari
  • Crocus
  • Allium
  • Hyacinth
  • Virginia bluebells
  • Iris

The following also make excellent spring blooming daffodil companion plants:

  • Brunnera
  • Hellebore
  • Pasque flower
  • Forget-me-not
  • Rhododendron

For continuous yellow color patches in the garden use:

  • Daylilies
  • Black eyed susan
  • Coreopsis
  • Primrose
  • Ligularia

Other later season blooming companion plants for daffodils include:

  • Roses
  • Peonies
  • Amsonia
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Goat’s beard
  • Astilbe
  • Hosta
  • Coral bells
  • Echinacea
  • Catmint
  • Lilies

When companion planting with daffodils for season long color, plant daffodils about 3-6 inches from later blooming plants. The daffodils will provide early spring color, while later blooming plants are just leafing and budding, then the later blooming plant will cover up and deter from the die back of the daffodils in late spring.

Special Report: Combining Spring Bulbs and Perennials

Perennials anchor our landscapes, but it can take quite awhile before the blooms of some types appear each season. Having interesting leaves—especially early in the growth period—helps quite a bit (heck, some perennials are grown just FOR their leaves, especially by folks who are ‘blessed’ with abundant shade). But what if the flowers of a different plant were to ride above those leaves early in the season, and then magically disappear just before the perennial’s flowers show up? That’s what happens when you drop the right Spring bulbs into the right kind of perennial.

For the past four seasons, Dr. Bill Miller, director of Cornell University’s Flower Bulb Research Program, has been doing just that; testing combinations of bulbs and perennials to see what looks the best for the longest period of time. And now the results are in: A list of the 15 most successful combinations has just been released by Cornell and the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.

The timing is perfect! Dr. Miller and his team used existing perennial beds to test their combinations, and the time for you to plant Spring bulbs in your perennials (or anywhere else) is coming up soon—around Halloween in the far Northern regions and between Halloween and Thanksgiving in the rest of the country (at least where there’s enough of a winter chill to make Spring bulbs happy).

“We didn’t plant any new perennials for these studies”, stresses Dr. Miller, “so people can take a look at our results, figure out which kinds of bulbs would be best to interplant in the perennials they already have in their landscape, get the bulbs in the ground and see the results immediately next season.

“Of course, our main goal was to find pairings where the growing perennials would allow the bulb’s flowers to be fully seen, and then hide the fading leaves of the bulbs after the flowers are done.” This, of course, solves the oldest problem with Spring bulbs—allowing their leaves to collect the solar energy necessary to fuel the following year’s flowering without having to look at those leaves as they become less and less attractive.

One of the perennials that provided the best foundation for this task was Rheum (pronounced “re-um”, with a long ‘e’) palmatum, a large leafed cousin of rhubarb. It hit the Top 15 twice, working well with white anemones and white hyacinth. “The leaves of the Rheum species we used are really red early in the season, and look great underneath the white bulb flowers,” says Dr. Miller.

Penstemon is another perennial that can work with two kinds of bulbs—in this case, hyacinth or daffodils. “We used ‘Husker Red’ penstemon because its early leaves are a wonderful dark purple; but you could drop any full-sized daffodil or hyacinth into any leafy penstemon and get good results,” says Dr. Miller.

“Same with oriental poppies and phlox,” he continues; “I’m confident that any full-sized daffodil will look good coming out of just about any Oriental poppy or phlox. And any of the so-called “black tulips” like ‘Queen of Night’ should look great growing out of almost any sedum, although dark leafed sedums add the most dramatic accent to those deep purple tulips. Asters and ornamental alliums also combine well in general.”

As do geraniums and tulips, it turns out. “We tested ‘Don Quichotte’ and ‘Splish Splash’ tulips with ‘Claridge Druce’ Geranium, and both worked well—as would any full-sized tulip.” And the sight of ‘Ballade’ tulips growing out of ‘Mayflower’ geraniums led to pure horticultural poetry in the final report {Quote}:”The early geranium foliage makes the tulip blooms look as if they are floating in a sea of green.” Who says researchers got no soul?

Hiding fading bulb leaves is job #1, of course, and all 15 combinations achieved that goal—with most of the pairings blooming in sequence, and thus creating a longer show in that one spot. But the researchers also praised a few pairs that bloomed at the same time, like daffodils and Pulsatilla (an anemone cousin sometimes called the ‘Pasque Flower’) and tulips with bleeding heart. (“We used the ‘Parade’ variety,” notes Dr. Miller, “but any big red tulip will work well in bleeding heart”.)

Other good ‘foundation perennials’ include yarrow, Potentilla, Lamb’s Ear, and bugbane—a perennial with a long history of use as an insect repellant (its scientific name, Cimicifuga comes from the Latin word for bedbug). It’s a useful family of plants; another member of the genus is the famous women’s herbal remedy, Black Cohosh.

Here’s a —with sequential photos of the plants as they blend together early and late in the season.

Here’s a longer list of 44 successful bulb and perennial combos from Cornell.

And to some bulb and perennial planting tips, so you can get your combos right the first time.

Now, the specific varieties used by the researchers are named in each combination, and you’re more than welcome to seek out the exact same bulbs (if you can find them). But since you’ll be working with your existing perennials, Dr. Miller suggests you use the results as more of a general set of guidelines.

“Look at our sequential photos to see how the leaf textures and colors of the plants compliment each other throughout the season, note the required heights of each plant and then put in the kinds of bulbs you think might work well with your perennials” he says.

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