Combining Bulbs and Perennials

By Susan Littlefield

Bulb planting season is upon us. As you get ready to tuck tulips, daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs into the garden, do you find yourself puzzling over which perennials to combine with these seasonal bloomers? Well, help is at hand. Researchers at Cornell University experimented with all sorts of bulb and herbaceous perennial plant combinations to come up with recommendations for combinations that extend the bloom season, hide fading bulb foliage, display contrasting or complementary foliage texture and provide color echoes to tie plantings together.

They came up with 44 different combinations that include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses, as well as a number of minor bulbs such as scillas, dwarf iris, alliums and winter aconites, partnered with perennials from asters to ornamental rhubarb. To make choosing combos even easier, you can select by bulb type or go straight to the list of the 15 top combinations. Photos show the combinations at various stages throughout the season.

Also included on this Cornell Flower Bulb Research Program website is a section with tips and how-to, as well as suggestions for creating bulb/perennial combinations in an existing perennial bed. There is also a resources page with links to bulb-related research and information websites.

For more information on ways to use bulbs in the perennial garden, go to: Bulb and Perennial Combinations.

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