How Many Bulbs Do I Need? Designing With Fall-Planted Bulbs in Small and Large Gardens

how many bulbs - tulips and daffodils

Tulips, Daffodils, and fall planted flower bulbs bring unparalleled color and cheer to the spring garden. The first blooms after winter are always a welcomed sight! As you plan for planting these easy-to-grow bulbs, you're probably wondering, "How many bulbs do I need?"

Whether you’re adding spring color to containers, or want to plant bulbs to fill in your yard with color, the first step in your design is to figure out how many bulbs you’ll need. For projects of any size, see our recommended bulbs per square foot. We’ve also put together examples of some of small and large fall bulb planting scenarios, complete with how many bulbs you’ll need to create each look. Plus, we offer tips on how to make a big spring statement in your garden on a budget!

Recommended Bulbs Per Square Foot

  • 6 Daffodil Bulbs per square foot. The exception to this rule are miniature Daffodil Bulbs, which can be planted 9 bulbs per square foot.
  • 9 Tulip Bulbs per square foot.
  • 7 Hyacinth Bulbs per square foot.
  • 16 Grape Hyacinth Bulbs per square foot.
  • 16 Crocus Bulbs per square foot.
  • 3 Allium Bulbs per square foot for most tall, classic varieties (like Globemaster and Gladiator). Smaller varieties (like Drumstick) can be planted 16 bulbs per square foot. 
Although our math is fairly good (for gardeners, at least), remember to check the bulbs/square feet information for each variety before planting.

Fall Planted Bulbs For Small Gardens & Containers

Style 1: Small Garden Beds

How many bulbs can a 4'x6' garden bed hold? (4' x 6' = 24 square feet)

how many  bulbs - small garden bed

Tulips planted behind Grape Hyacinth

One of the most attractive things about Fall-Planted Bulbs for small gardens is that they take up such little space. If you're working with a tiny city garden, Fall-Planted Bulbs are an easy way to add big, bold color to the spring garden. They can be planted among your favorite perennials or wildflowers with ease, making it easy to pack in season-long color in a small garden bed.

As you can see, a small garden space can pack a lot of punch with Spring-Blooming Bulbs. Try mixing a variety of bulbs together for a display all spring long, including early Crocus, mid-season Daffodils and Tulips, and late season Allium.

Style 2: Containers

  • When planting in containers, make sure you give your bulbs enough room - horizontally and vertically - to grow and bloom. 
  • Depending on the variety and size of the container, you can usually fit about 3-16 bulbs per container. 
  • Standard container sizes are usually about 1 square foot, so confirm the recommended bulb spacing for your variety.

how many bulbs - containers

If you're looking for a big statement with few bulbs, containers are a great choice. You can also move them easily to fit your garden style for the season.

Shop Fall-Planted Flower Bulbs For Containers and Small Spaces

Fall Planted Bulbs For Medium To Large Gardens

If you have a larger space to work with, or even a hellstrip (the green space between the sidewalk and the road) in front of your small city property, you can have a lot of fun with a big display of Tulips, Daffodils, and more.

We'll review four beautful fall bulb plantings with big impact:

  • Design 1: Tench Planting Around A Tree
  • Design 2: A Round Bulb Spiral
  • Design 3: Lining The Front of A Property With Bulbs
  • Design 4: Hellstrip Garden


Design 1: Trench Planting Around A Tree

Plant a curved area to frame a trees on your property. This planting features 200 Tulip Bulbs to fill in the trench around the small tree, for a big, enjoyable display of spring color.

See More Examples Of Quick & Efficient Trench Planting Here

how many bulbs - tulips

A big swath of Tulip bulbs makes a huge, colorful statement in the spring.

how many bulbs - tulips

Always plant the pointed ends of bulbs up.

how many bulbs - tulips

After: the rainbow of Tulip blooms frame this tree nicely.

Design 2: Round Bulb Spiral

A lot of gardeners like to get creative with their spring-blooming bulbs, and a popular way to do this is to create a bulb spiral. Our co-workers Hazen and Mary took the spiral idea and shifted it a little. They created a bulb yin yang with 250 Tulip Bulbs, planting half one variety and half the other.

Although the bed created a colorful statement in the spring, their yin yang didn’t come out quite as planned. They chose two different varieties of Tulips that didn't bloom at the same time (one was earlier than the other). Also, one side of the yin yang was planted on a slope, so the bulbs planted in that section were much shorter than the rest. Next time, Hazen and Mary say they'll choose the same Tulip variety in two different colors and make sure to level out the area before they plant.

how many bulbs - spiral

Design 3: Lining The Front Of A Property With Bulbs

Create a big splash of color across the entire front of your property. Add curb appeal and brighten up your yard! Trench planting is an easy way to plant a whopping 750 Tulip Bulbs in the fall. Come spring, the colorful blooms welcome guests and passerbys with a cheerful display. When planting a very large number of bulbs, we highly recommend choosing varieties that will bloom in succession, to make the flowers last throughout the season. 

how many bulbs -  tulip planting

Trench Planting is a quick, efficent method for planting lots of bulbs!

how many bulbs - lining property

The spring display was fantastic.

how many bulbs - bouquet

You will have plenty of blooms to cut for endless bouquets!

Design 4: Hellstrip Garden

We love how this customer turned her "hellstrip" lawn into a fantastic spring display of miniature Daffodils and Tulips. If you're looking to cut back on mowing and maintenance in your hellstrip, try planting perennial Fall-Planted Bulbs like these Daffodils and Darwin Tulips.

Sprinkle one of our Regional Wildflower Mixtures on top for blooms from summer to fall, for a full season display of color that comes back year after year!

how many  bulbs - hellstrip garden

Make A Big Spring Statement In Your Garden - On A Budget

We know that many gardeners simply don't have the budget to add 750 bulbs to their property, and that's OK! If you're looking to create a huge statement with a smaller budget, here are some tips for creating big color with little cost (or effort):

  • Focus on grouping bulbs tightly in one small space that is easily visible. Tulips, Daffodils, Allium, and more are some of the most cherished blooms in the garden. And whether you're looking add these iconic beauties to your balcony, front garden bed, walkways, or anywhere in between, a big grouping almost always looks better than individual plantings. 50 Tulip Bulbs grouped in a small garden bed will create a much bigger impact than spacing them all throughout your garden.
  • Plant in containers; containers are an easy way to make a grand statement with few bulbs. You can also move them around year to year depending on your mood.
  • Plant varieties that will multiply each year, giving you added color and bulbs for free! Some of our favorite varieties that naturalize, or multiply and spread each year, are Dutchmaster Daffodil Bulbs, Grape Hyacinths, and Dutch Crocus.
  • Add a little each year. If you know you eventually want your entire house lined with Tulips or Daffodils, plant 50-100 bulbs each year until you've made it all the way across. Remember to choose perennial varieties so you won't have to buy bulbs each year.
  • Take advantage of seasonal sales. Once you have a great garden plan, you can make the most of bulbs on sale or bulk purchases!

Bulk Fall Flower Bulbs

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