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Flower Bulbs That Thrive Under Trees

Spring Bulbs, Fall Bulbs

Naturalizing bulbs, Bulbs that come back, Perennial Bulbs, Bulbs Under Trees, Perennial Crocus, Perennial Narcissus, Perennial Tulips, Perennial Galanthus, Perennial Anemones, Snowdrops

Flower 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.
  • Ensure your trees have deep roots 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 are associated with wooded areas because they are adapted to 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.

Guide Information

Plant Type Bulbs, Perennials
Genus Narcissus, Galanthus, Tulipa, Cyclamen, Colchicum, Crocus, Iris reticulata
Exposure Partial Sun
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit

1 - Pretty Bulbs to Plant Under Trees

2 – Plant your Bulbs Properly

  • Scatter your bulbs randomly and plant them where they fall, between the roots of the tree.
  • Plant them in small groups but remember to leave room for their natural increase. As these bulbs will be in place for several years, you want to avoid overcrowding that would reduce flowering.
  • Dig planting holes with a trowel or bulb planter, carefully avoiding major tree roots. The holes need to be about three times the height of the bulb.
  • Plant the bulbs with their points facing up and their roots facing down.
  • Fill the hole with the previously removed soil and tamp the surface gently.
  • Water well after planting, and spread a layer of mulch.

Discover These Helpful Guides for Further Reading

12 Top Performing Spring Bulbs that Come Back Year After Year!
Brighten Up Your Garden From January Through May with Colorful Flower Bulbs
Combining Tulips with Annuals and Perennials
Great Daffodils that Come Back Every Year
Most Fragrant Daffodils
Pretty Tulips that Come Back Every Year
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Plant Type Bulbs, Perennials
Genus Narcissus, Galanthus, Tulipa, Cyclamen, Colchicum, Crocus, Iris reticulata
Exposure Partial Sun
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Tolerance Deer, Rabbit

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