Van Bloem Gardens
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Bulb Usage

Welcome to the wonderfully rich world of bulbs.

It includes everything from cheery golden daffodils in spring to tall regal lilies in summer. There are so many different colors, forms and bloom times to choose from, it's easy to find bulbs that will work in almost any situation.

Creating Natural Plantings

Spring blooming bulbs are a refreshing site after a long winter and nothing is more enchanting than big drifts of bulbs flowing through grassy areas or in lightly shaded woodlands.

Designing Natural Plantings

Naturalized plantings should mimic nature and blend in with the existing landscape. To achieve this, lay out your planting areas so they follow the contours of your land and be generous with the size of the areas to be planted. The impact of your planting will be much greater if you have several large areas of naturalized bulbs than if you have lots of small areas. Naturalized plantings look best when they are planted densely in the center then feather out to fewer bulbs at the edges of the planting. And finally, swaths of one solid color generally have greater visual affect (effect?) than drifts of mixed colors.


The key to selecting a good location for naturalizing bulbs is finding an area that isn't mowed until after the foliage ripens or turns yellow. (Ripening foliage feeds the underground bulb so it can store energy and nutrients needed to bloom next spring.) Therefore, a manicured front lawn may not be the best place for a naturalized planting but areas underneath deciduous trees, grassy meadows, a slope or hill, or a woodland are ideal.

Good Choices for Naturalizing

*****Note to developer: generate list of bulbs from plant db with characterisic of Naturalizing. Can we include a thumbnail photo and link back to full plant record?>

Planting and Care

Please refer to the planting depth and spacing listed on the box or tear-off tags. You can also refer to the Bulb Planting and Care  Spring Blooming Bulbs section of our website for this information. Once the bulbs are planted, you can help them put on a great show year after year by applying slow-release, 10-10-20 fertilizer as a top dressing after planting and each fall thereafter. Follow label directions for application rates. If, after 10 years or so, flowering slows down and the plants seem overgrown, dig the clumps, divide them and replant. You can use the extra bulbs to enlarge your naturalized areas or share them with friends.

Formal Beds

***insert photo*** Spring blooming bulbs make wonderful displays in flower beds that are planted with colorful annuals later in the season. Hyacinths and tulips are classic choices for this kind of planting. You can combine the bulbs with other cool season annuals such as pansies for added interest. After the foliage matures, bulbs used in formal bedding displays are usually lifted and discarded or stored during their dormant season to make room for summer annuals that are planted when the weather warms.

Mixed Borders

*** insert photo*** Bulbs are a natural addition to perennial and shrub borders. Get your border going early in the season with galanthus, crocus, eranthis, anemone and chionodoxa. Later bulbs include narcissi, Darwin tulips, and fritillaria while tulips, allium and Dutch iris put on a show later in spring. Use spring flowering bulbs to fill pockets between plants or in loose planting drifts all through the border. Many of the mid-height spring bulbs such as narcissi are perfect in combination with low ground covers. Taller summer blooming bulbs such as elephant ears, cannas, lilies, allium and dahlia can serve as focal points in a mixed border or can be used more liberally in large exuberant designs.

Three Seasons of Color

Garden bulbs can provide beauty for many months. Choose spring and summer blooming bulbs so you have something going on all through the growing season.****insert illustration: image name: spring flower ht chart***

Bulbs in Containers

***insert photo: image name: 40163_Narciss*** Container planting is another way to use spring and summer bulbs. Growing in containers is a good alternative if you don't have garden space, but it's also a good choice if you are restricted by too much shade, poor soil, too little time, limited mobility or a difficult climate. The bulbs you choose to grow will determine the best container size. Outdoor containers need to be large enough to accommodate the correct planting depth and to allow for root growth. In general, use the largest container possible because the more soil there is, the more root space there will be and the more water your container will hold. This is important because it means your plants do not need to be watered as frequently.

Spring Bulbs

Brighten your entry way, deck, balcony or patio with welcoming spring blooming bulbs such as crocus, hyacinths, narcissi and tulips. They provide color early and combine beautifully with cool season annuals such as pansies, snapdragon, diascia, nemesia, calendula and lobelia. Plant spring blooming bulbs in outdoor containers in fall, at the same time you plant bulbs in the ground. Just follow these three simple steps: ***insert illustrations; image name: container planting***
  1. Use a container with drainage holes and partially fill it with potting soil. (Do not use garden soil because it does not drain well causing bulbs to rot. You can purchase light weight potting soil at your local garden center.) Plant the bulbs at the depth suggested on the package or tear-off. Add soil to within 1 inch of the top of the container. Fertilizer isn't necessary because bulbs contain all the food they need for now.
  2. Thoroughly soak the entire pot with water. Place the container in a dark, cool place (below 50R(10°C), and above 32F (0°C)) until early spring. During this period, keep the soil moist.
  3. Move the containers outdoors in early spring and enjoy.

Summer Bulbs

Summer bulbs such as dahlias, begonias, lilies, calla lilies and caladiums are excellent for containers. Summer bulbs thrive in warm weather and provide a great range of choices in terms of color and form. Plant summer bulbs in outdoor containers after the last chance of frost has past. Alternatively, you can start summer bulbs indoors in April or May and move them to the final containers after the last chance of frost.

Forcing Bulbs

*** insert illustrations *** Forcing is a way to make flower bulbs bloom out of season so you can enjoy them in your home in the winter. The blooms fill your home with welcoming color, and delightful fragrance. Spring blooming bulbs that are good for forcing include muscari, hyacinths, crocus, paperwhites, narcissi and amaryllis. However, many other bulb varieties, such as tulips, are also suitable for forcing but they tend to be a little more difficult. Before spring flowering bulbs can be "forced" into flower, they require a cold period of about 12 to 15 weeks at temperatures between 41-48°F in order to produce a good root system. The way to do this is to pot the bulbs then put them in cold storage for 12-15 weeks. Good Choices for Forcing Potting Bulbs Step 1: Use a container with drainage holes and fill it almost to the top with potting soil (Do not use garden soil because it will not drain well and your bulbs will rot. You can purchase light weight potting soil at your local garden center.) Plant the bulbs on top of the soil. Fertilizer isn't necessary because the bulbs contain all the food they need for now.

How many bulbs per pot?

***Client needs to confirm this information *** Number bulbs per 6" (15cm) container:
  • Tulips: 6 bulbs
  • Narcissus (Large Varieties): 3-6 bulbs, depending on bulb size
  • Hyacinths: 3 bulbs
  • Crocus: 12 bulbs
  • Muscari: 12 bulbs
  • Paperwhites: 5 bulbs
  • Amaryllis: 1 bulb
  • Step 2: Add additional soil to partially cover the bulbs. Water thoroughly. Place the container in a dark, cool place (below 50°F (10°C), and above 32° (0°C)) for 12-15 weeks. During this period, keep the soil moist. (Paperwhites and amaryllis do not require cold temperature treatment. You can pot them and move them to your sunny growing area immediately. They will put out green shoots and bloom within a few weeks).

    Ways to provide cold storage

    Cooling bulbs indoors

    Bulbs can be cooled in a dark place where temperatures stay below 50°F (10°C) and above 32° (0°C). A cool cellar, unheated garage or shed or refrigerator are good choices if they meet these requirements. The soil should be moist before the pots go into storage.

    Cooling bulbs outdoors

    In cold climates where hard freezes are likely, dig a trench deep enough to hold the pots plus 3 inches of sand. Be sure to dig below the frost line, usually 6-12 inches deep. Spread sand or pebbles on the bottom of the bed for drainage then place the pots on top of that. Cover the pots with loose leaves and then soil. Remove the pots after 12-15 weeks checking to see that roots are well formed and shoot growth has started. In climates where fall and winter temperatures stay below 50°F (10°C) and above 32° (0°C) you can place your pots close together on top of the ground and cover them with a heavy mulch mounded into a dome so it will drain. Check for the pots after 12-15 weeks to see that roots are well formed and shoot growth has started. Be careful not to damage the new shoot growth when you remove the mulch. Step 3: After 12-15 weeks of cool storage, the root system should be well established. With a strong root system and one inch sprouts, you can move the pot indoors to a sunny location. The pale shoots will quickly turn green as they begin to photosynthesize. The ideal room temperature is 65°F (18°C). Warm room temperatures promote fast growth while cooler temperatures slow things down and keep your bulbs blooming longer. Step 4: Water once a day or every other day to keep the soil moist. Be prepared to stake plants and tie them up if shoots get too tall and fall over.
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