Van Bloem Gardens

Using Bulbs

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

Creating Natural Plantings
Formal Color Beds
Mixed Plantings
Three Seasons of Color
Bulbs in Containers
Forcing Bulbs

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 appeal than drifts of mixed colors.

Location

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 this type of planting is well-suited underneath deciduous trees, in grassy meadows, gracing a hill, or brightening a woodland.

 

Good Choices for Naturalizing

Ornamental Onion
Allium 'Hair'
Ornamental Onion
Ornamental Onion
Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation'
Ornamental Onion
Ornamental Onion
Allium atropurpurea
Ornamental Onion
Ornamental Onion-Blue Globe
Allium azureum
Ornamental Onion-Blue Globe
Ornamental Onion-Star of Persia
Allium christophii
Ornamental Onion-Star of Persia
Allium giganteum
Ornamental Onion
Allium giganteum 'Gladiator'
Ornamental Onion
Ornamental Onion
Allium giganteum 'Globemaster'
Ornamental Onion
Mediterranean Bells
Allium nectaroscordum siculum
Mediterranean Bells
Ornamental Onion
Allium ostrowskianum
Ornamental Onion
Ornamental Onion
Allium schubertii
Ornamental Onion
Drumsticks
Allium sphaerocephalon
Drumsticks
Ornamental Onion
Allium stipitatum 'Mt. Everest'
Ornamental Onion
Glory of the Snow
Chionodoxa '"Pink Giant"'
Glory of the Snow
Glory of the Snow
Chionodoxa gigantea 'alba'
Glory of the Snow
Glory of the Snow
Chionodoxa luciliae
Glory of the Snow
Crocus Autumn Flowering
Colchicum 'Lilac Wonder'
Crocus Autumn Flowering
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Crocus Dutch Crocus 'Pickwick'
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Crocus Species 'Ruby'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Dutch Crocus 'Giant Blue'
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Dutch Crocus 'Giant Purple'
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Dutch Crocus 'Giant White'
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Dutch Crocus 'Giant Yellow'
Crocus Large Flowering
Crocus Saffron
Crocus sativus
Crocus Saffron
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Blue Pearl'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Cream Beauty'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Gipsy Girl'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Lady Killer'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Ruby Giant'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Spring Beauty'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Tricolor'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Crocus Species Crocus 'Zwanenburg Bronze'
Crocus Bunch Flowering
Checkered Lily
Fritillaria meleagris
Checkered Lily
Persian Fritillaria
Fritillaria persica
Persian Fritillaria
Snowdrops
Galanthus nivalis
Snowdrops
Spring Starflower
Ipheon 'Rolf Fiedler'
Spring Starflower
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Autumn Circus'
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Best Bet'
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Buckwheat'
Iris, Bearded Iris
Iris,Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Immortality'
Iris,Bearded Iris
Iris,Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Jurassic Park'
Iris,Bearded Iris
Iris,Bearded Iris
Iris germanica 'Superstition'
Iris,Bearded Iris
Summer Snowflake
Leucojum aestivum
Summer Snowflake
Lily-Asiatic Lilies
Lilium 'Compass'
Lily-Asiatic Lilies
Lily-Tiger Lilies
Lilium lancifolium 'Orange'
Lily-Tiger Lilies
Lily-Tiger Lilies
Lilium lancifolium 'Yellow'
Lily-Tiger Lilies
Lily-Pixie Lilies
Lilium x hybrid asiatica 'Denia'
Lily-Pixie Lilies
Grape Hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum
Grape Hyacinth
Grape Hyacinth-Double
Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike'
Grape Hyacinth-Double
Grape Hyacinth
Muscari armeniacum 'Valerie Finnis'
Grape Hyacinth
Grape Hyacinth
Muscari azureum
Grape Hyacinth
Grape Hyacinth White
Muscari botryoides 'album'
Grape Hyacinth White
Grape Hyacinth
Muscari latifolium
Grape Hyacinth
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'February Gold'
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'Jack Snipe'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'Jenny'
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'Jetfire'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'Peeping Tom'
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Cyclamineus 'Tete a Tete'
Daffodil-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils Double-Flowering
Narcissus Double Narcissus 'Calgary'
Daffodils Double-Flowering
Daffodils-Double Floweing
Narcissus Double Narcissus 'Golden Ducat'
Daffodils-Double Floweing
Daffodils Double-Flowering
Narcissus Double Narcissus 'Pencrebar'
Daffodils Double-Flowering
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Double Narcissus 'Rip Van Winkle'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodil Jonquilla
Narcissus Jonquilla 'Baby Moon'
Daffodil Jonquilla
Daffodil Jonquilla
Narcissus Jonquilla 'Bell Song'
Daffodil Jonquilla
Daffodil Jonquilla
Narcissus Jonquilla 'Pipit'
Daffodil Jonquilla
Daffodil Jonquilla
Narcissus Jonquilla 'Sundial'
Daffodil Jonquilla
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'California'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Chromocolor'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Easter Bonnet'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Flower Record'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Fortissimo'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Fortune'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Gigantic Star'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Ice Follies'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Kissproof'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Loveday'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Pink Charm'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Red Devon'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Salome'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Sempre Avanti'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'St. Patrick's Day'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodil Large Cup
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Tickled Pinkeen'
Daffodil Large Cup
Daffodils
Narcissus Large Cup Narcissus 'Wave'
Daffodils
Daffodil Small Cup
Narcissus Small Cup 'Barrett Browning'
Daffodil Small Cup
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Tazetta 'Geranium'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Tazetta 'Minnow'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Triandrus 'Katie Heath'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Narcissus Triandrus 'Thalia'
Daffodils-Rockgarden Narcissus
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Dutch Master'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Holland's Sensation'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Marieke'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Mount Hood'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Pink Parasol'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Rhijveld's Early Sensation'
Daffodil Trumpet
Daffodil Trumpet
Narcissus Trumpet 'Unsurpassable'
Daffodil Trumpet
Striped Squill
Puschkinia libanotica
Striped Squill
Wood Hyacinth
Scilla campanulata 'Excelsior'
Wood Hyacinth
Wood Hyacinth
Scilla campanulata 'Mixed'
Wood Hyacinth
Tulip Waterlily
Tulipa Kaufmanniana 'Chopin'
Tulip Waterlily
Tulip Waterlily
Tulipa Kaufmanniana 'Heart's Delight'
Tulip Waterlily

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.

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Formal Color Beds

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.

Location

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 this type of planting is well-suited underneath deciduous trees, in grassy meadows, gracing a hill, or brightening a woodland.

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Mixed Borders

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.

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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.

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Bulbs in Containers

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.

Step 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.

Step 2: Thoroughly soak the entire pot with water. Place the container in a dark, cool place (below 50°F (10°C), and above 32° (0°C)) until early spring. During this period, keep the soil moist.

Step 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 is 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.

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Forcing Bulbs

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 welcome 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. Most paperwhites and amaryllis do not need to be cooled when you buy them. You can simply plant them in an attractive container, place them near a sunny window and watch them grow. If you are forcing bulbs that do need to be cooded, the way to do this is to pot the bulbs them put them in cold storage for 12-15 weeks. A spare refrigerator is ideal.

Good Choices for Forcing

Sea daffodil
Chidanthus fragrans
Sea daffodil
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Aphrodite'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Apple Blossom'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Blossom Peacock'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Blushing Bride'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Candy Floss'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Carnival'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Charisma'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Clown'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Dancing Queen'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Double Dragon'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Elvas'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Gold Medal'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Jewel'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Lemon Lime'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Liberty'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Merry Christmas'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Milady'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Minerva'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Nagano'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Double
Hippeastrum 'Pasadena'
Amaryllis-Double
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Picotee'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Prelude'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Ragtime'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Red Lion'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Royal Velvet'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Rozette'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Scarlet Baby'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Snow White'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'Vera'
Amaryllis
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Hippeastrum 'Wedding Dance'
Amaryllis-Christmas Blooming
Amaryllis
Hippeastrum 'White Christmas'
Amaryllis
Paperwhites
Narcissus tazetta 'Soliel D'Or'
Paperwhites
Paperwhites
Narcissus tazetta ssp papyraceus 'Inbal'
Paperwhites
Paperwhites
Narcissus tazetta ssp papyraceus 'Ziva'
Paperwhites
Paperwhites
Narcissus tazetta var orientalis 'Chinese Sacred Lily'
Paperwhites
Tulip Peony Flowering
Tulipa Double Late 'Wirosa'
Tulip Peony Flowering
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Couleur Cardinal'
Tulip Triumph
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Francoise'
Tulip Triumph
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Golden Melody'
Tulip Triumph
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Happy Generation'
Tulip Triumph
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Judith Leyster'
Tulip Triumph
Tulip Triumph
Tulipa Triumph 'Yellow Flight'
Tulip Triumph

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?

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).

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.

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.

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