The scent of hyacinths, the nodding heads of daffodils, the bright colors of tulips all say spring is here. Spring bulbs are stunning when in full bloom. They need a little bit of help to stay attractive when the blooms have faded. Many gardeners are tempted to cut back the dying foliage to tidy up the flower bed, but it's important to avoid this, as the leaves provide energy for the bulb to bloom the next year.
Choose the Companions
Choose plants that bloom before, during and after the spring bulbs. Alyssum is a low-growing flower with tiny blossoms in white or purple. It adds color and interest to a spring bulb bed while the bulbs are sprouting but haven't blossomed yet.
Pick pansies to start blooming when the earlier spring bulbs like crocus and grape hyacinth have stopped. Pansies grow high enough to cover the dying leaves of shorter bulbs.
Select daylilies to plant with daffodils. The daylilies will start growing just as the daffodil leaves start to yellow. By the time the leaves are unsightly they'll be hidden by the long leaves of the daylilies.
Consider larkspur, bachelor buttons and Shasta daisies. They all start growing just as the flowers of hyacinths and tulips are fading. Interplant among the bulbs.
Pick companion plants that have the same light and moisture requirements as the spring bulbs. Keep in mind that many spring bulbs can be planted under deciduous trees. However, when the trees leaf out the companion plants may be in the shade where sun is needed.
Transplanting From the Nursery Container
Gently till the top 4 inches of the soil. Don't go any deeper or you may dig up the spring bulbs. Add a 2-inch layer of compost or organic material and slow release fertilizer. Mix well.
Plant seeds of alyssum in the spring by broadcasting over the area and then covering them with 1/4 inch of soil. Plant icicle pansies in the fall before the average date of the last frost. Plant other pansies in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked.
Dig a hole just large enough for the roots of the daylilies to spread. The top of the roots should be just 1/2 inch underground. Daylilies may be planted any time of year except the hottest part of the summer and, of course, winter.
Transplant larkspur, bachelor buttons and daisies in the ground as deep as they were in their containers. These flowers may also be planted by seed. Cover the seeds of larkspur and bachelor buttons with 1/4 inch of soil. Don't cover the Shasta daisy seeds, they require light to germinate. Shasta daisies are a perennial and won't flower much, if at all, their first year.
Feed the companion plants once a month during the growing season. Mulch to keep weeds away and conserve moisture. Water if rainfall doesn't amount to 1 inch a week.
About this Author
Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on GardenGuides.com, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.