Flowering bulbs look appealing when planted under garden trees. However, planting any bulbs beneath large trees is not always successful because of the dense shade cast by the trees, the competition with their roots and the lack of moisture under these trees. If a tree competes with bulbs for light, water or nutrients, the tree always wins.
Planting for success - Give your bulbs a chance to survive and bloom
- Plant your bulbs under deciduous trees. Do not plant them under evergreen trees or they will not have enough light to grow and bloom.
- Make sure your trees have deep root systems or large surface roots (oaks, redbuds, hawthorns, southern magnolias) and high limbs (casting light shade). Avoid trees with shallow or fibrous root systems (sugar maples) or with branches too close to the ground (casting too much shade)
- Plant early blooming bulbs: they will flower before the tree fully unfolds its umbrella of leaves.
- Plant fall blooming bulbs (autumn crocus): they will brighten shady areas under trees at a time when there are not many other bulbs flowering in the garden.
- Plant bulbs associated with wooded areas because they are adapted to the partial sunlight or even full shade for some of them.
- Plant bulbs that naturalize well and come back year after year, so you only have to dig among the tree's roots once to have a spring show for years to come.
- Plant plenty of them as it takes a lot of small bulbs to make a brilliant show.
A number of perennial bulbs do well under trees, such as snowdrops (Galanthus), crocuses (Crocus), grape hyacinths (Muscari), winter aconites (Eranthis), Siberian squills (Scilla siberica), snowflakes (Leucojum), bluebells (Hyacinthoides), early blooming daffodils (Narcissus) and plenty others charming bulbs.
They all look stunning, forming a carpet of flowers dancing in the dappled light under a group of trees. Left undisturbed in the ground, they will emerge year after year, and some will also gently multiply as long as they receive the right light conditions and are planted in soil with the proper drainage.