Natural Plantings with Bulbs

Spring blooming bulbs will be a refreshing sight after a long winter. While uniform rows of tulips, daffodils and more are right for some situations, a more natural looking display is an informal way to bring early spring color to your home.

To create natural plantings of bulbs flowing through grassy areas or in lightly shaded woodlands, follow these tips.

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.


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. However, areas like underneath deciduous trees, in grassy meadows, gracing a hill, or brightening a woodland would be perfect.

Planting and Care

Please refer to the planting depth and spacing listed on the box or tear-off tags of your bulbs.

Once the bulbs are planted, you can help them put on a great show year after year by applying slow-release fertilizer as a top dressing after planting and each fall thereafter. Follow the 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.