Bulbs are an easy way to add color to your garden, specifically in the spring or fall. They are simple to plant and most will last many years in your garden. In general, bulbs are planted entirely underground, with their leaves and flowers emerging months later full of color.
Will bulbs grow in a raised garden bed?
Bulbs grow well in raised garden beds with well-drained soils. Any garden bed with good drainage and the right light conditions can be planted with bulbs.
Planning a Bulb Garden
Bulbs can have different location preferences. Some love shady places, whereas others love areas with full sunlight. Some bloom in late winter, while others are damaged by cold temperatures. Most bulbs love soils with good drainage.
Bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, and tulips need a period of cold conditions and can grow in temperate zones worldwide.
When planning your bulb garden, consider the following:
Consider what plants bloom before and after the bulbs in your area, so you can mix them into your garden. This is commonly known as companion planting. The leaves and flowers of bulbs naturally die down and make room for other plants in the garden.
Some bulbs multiply rapidly, and if you have enough space, they can produce a big splash of color over time. However, if you are working in a confined area or within a specific garden design, you may not want the extra growth.
Many bulbs can also be used on a “here and gone” basis, where you enjoy them for a given season and then discard them, like an annual.
Planting the Bulb Garden
The Depth Needed
It is important to dig holes deep enough for the bulbs. Bulbs should be planted at least three times their height. If a bulb is 1 inch tall, dig holes at least 3 inches deep, and place the bulb at the bottom.
Fill in the hole with soil, pressing gently to avoid compaction and damaging the bulbs.
Water immediately after planting only if the soil is dry. Regular watering is generally not necessary if the soil has some moisture in it.
You can grow bulbs in groups provided the soil has some moisture and is rich in nutrients. Spacing between bulbs should be at least twice their width. Bulbs such as tulips and hyacinth come in a variety of colors, hence planting them in designs will create a very beautiful garden.
The soil should be rich in organic nutrients and free-draining. Compacted soils and clay soils have poor drainage capacity and can cause bulbs to rot.
Bulbs should be watered whenever the soils dry out. However, you should be careful not to soak the soil as it may lead to root diseases and rot. One inch a week is the most ideal.
Concerns with Planting Bulbs in a Raised Bed
Bulbs are adversely affected by excessive watering and poorly drained soils. Overwatering or waterlogged soils will cause the bulbs to rot. Waterlogging may occur in soils high in clay or compacted soils.
Mulching can help with moisture conservation in overly dry soils.
Types of Bulbs That Do Well in a Raised Garden
Daffodils– are low-maintenance, spring-flowering bulbs. They grow well in groups rather than individually and have a wide range of flower sizes, shapes, and forms. They prefer fertile soils that have good drainage and full sunlight.
Crocus– require well-drained soils with organic matter and full sun. Growing them in raised garden beds or holes lined with wire mesh protects them from burrowing critters and animals such as squirrels. If your crocuses stop flowering over time, dig them up and divide them to encourage full blooms.
Amaryllis– are commonly grown in pots and prefer to be planted with the top third of the bulb out of the soil. Amaryllis cannot tolerate wet soil. They need abundant natural light and temperatures of 65-75°F.
Hyacinth– need consistent moisture once they start to emerge. Well-drained soils are important. Hyacinths are popular for cutting. Cut spent flowers at the base of the stem for best performance the next year.
Muscari– should be planted 4 inches deep and not closely spaced. They need no maintenance and will flower and die down on their own in spring. After four years, lift and divide the mature clumps and then replant.
Snowdrops– prefer well-drained, evenly moist soils with good nutrients. No maintenance is required once snowdrops become established. You can easily divide mature clumps and replant them.
Tulips– grow best in areas that are sunny with well-drained soils. It is important to not overwater tulips, as they are prone to rot. Tulips come in many colors, color combinations, and sizes.
Dahlias– thrive in lots of light and free-draining soils. You can treat them as annuals, or carefully lift the tubers in the fall when the soil becomes cold and wet. Mulch immediately after planting to conserve the soil moisture.
Bulbs are easy-to-grow plants because they require little to no maintenance. If you ensure they receive enough sun and good drainage, you can sit back and watch them flower in brilliant colors. Overwatering, which promotes rot, is the biggest concern when growing bulbs in any garden bed.