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Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, and more bring unparalleled color and cheer to the spring garden each year. They are part of that first group of blooms to wake up and flower after the winter, and are often welcomed with big smiles and cheers from the winter-ridden gardener. And as we start to plan our fall planting of these easy-to-grow bulbs, a big question pops into our minds (and the minds of gardeners throughout the country): how many bulbs do I need?
Whether you’re adding spring color to containers in a city garden, are looking to frame the area around your mailbox, or want to add bulbs to the entire side of your house, the first step to your design plan is to figure out how many bulbs you’ll need. We’ve put together some of the most common Fall Bulb planting scenarios with an estimate of how many bulbs you’ll need of each common variety. Although our math is fairly good (for gardeners, at least), remember to check the bulbs/square feet information for each variety to make sure it works for your area.
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.
When planting in containers, you want to 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 knowing how many bulbs per square foot is helpful when planning your container planting:
A standard size terra cotta pot fit roughly 4-5 Daffodil Bulbs. A larger sap bucket will easily fit 6.
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.
How many bulbs can a 4'x6' garden bed hold?
In a small 4'x6' raised bed or plot, you could fit:
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.
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.
Mike planted a curved area to frame one of the trees on his property. He used about 200 Tulip Bulbs to fill in the trench around the small tree and enjoyed a big display of spring color.
Learn All About Trench Planting Here
A big swath of Tulip bulbs makes a huge, colorful statement in the spring.
Always plant the pointed ends of bulbs up.
After: the rainbow of Tulip blooms frame this tree nicely.
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.
This Tulip yin yang was created with 250 Tulip Bulbs.
Hazen and his roommates wanted to create a big splash of color across the entire front of their property. They dug a trench and planted 750 Tulip Bulbs in the fall. Come spring, the colorful blooms welcomed guests into their home.
A large planting like this in front of the entire property takes about 750 Tulip Bulbs
The spring display was fantastic.
They have had plenty of blooms to cut for endless bouquets.
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):
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. What is your favorite way to design with Fall Bulbs and how many do you usually plant? Please share in the comments below!