April 7th 2016 Companions for tulips

You will be aware that I love tulips and luckily they grow well in my very free draining soil.  Tulips hate summer wet which is why in the UK it is usual to lift and store them for replanting the following autumn – that is a lot of work so when I lived in England I usually treated them as annuals and planted them in pots.

Here I am lucky that most return year on year and some even naturalize to the extent that I can see some bulbs have produced 3, 4 or even 5 flowers.  Certainly these are smaller than when the bulb was new and produced only one flower but in the garden situation they look very natural.

Tulip White Dream, origionally planted in the formal beds in 2008; a few remain in the re-gigged Evergreen borders, each bulb is producing more than one flower stem

Tulip White Dream, origionally planted in the formal beds in 2008; a few remain in the re-gigged Evergreen borders, each bulb is producing more than one flower stem

Most of the tulips I planted last autumn were in areas where I had created new beds so they look rather nude with nothing growing with them, I will rectify this either very soon as they die back or in autumn.

These tulips are on the edge of an existing planting, it will be easy to add more Euphorbia so that next year they will grow out of a froth of acid yellow.

These tulips (T. Request) are on the edge of an existing planting, it will be easy to add more Euphorbia so that next year they will grow out of a froth of acid yellow.

There are always seedlings of Euphorbia in the gravel paths, some I pot up but others can be moved directly where I want them.

Faded T. Request as above

Faded T. Request as above.  I love tulips that fade and age well.

Existing planting with Stipa tenuissima and Euphorbia

Existing planting with Stipa tenuissima and Euphorbia

Tulip has been flowering for weeks, this new planting only has mulch and needs a decision about what to plant with them.

Tulip Huis Ten Bosch has been flowering for weeks, this new planting only has mulch and needs a decision about what to plant with them.

Anemone coronaria Sylphide with Tulip nearby Hemerocallis are already planted, I'll split them to add to the mix

Anemone coronaria Sylphide with Tulip Purple Peony nearby Hemerocallis are already planted, I’ll split them to add to the mix

New planting T. Carnival has just mulch at present I will add some Hemerocallis in and around to fill the space in summer

New planting T. Carnival has just mulch at present I will add some Hemerocallis in and around to fill the space in summer

Spring walk, various bulbs are planted with the tulips. there is also scisirinchium striatum which isn't so good as its clumps inhibit the new shoots

Spring walk, various bulbs are planted with the tulips.  There is Euphorbia and Stipa in this bed.

Established T. China Pink with Euphorbia myrsinites under Rosa Queen of Sweden

Established T. China Pink with Euphorbia myrsinites under Rosa Queen of Sweden

Looking left, under the Arbutus; hemerocallis foliage is already hiding the foliage of T.

Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro foliage is already hiding the foliage of T. Lambarda

To summarise, I have had most success using Hemerocallis (short varieties), Stipa tenuissima and Euphorbia myrsinites as companion plants.  If you have any other suggestions that work for you, do let me know.

Euphorbia myrsinites combines well with Muscari too

Euphorbia myrsinites combines well with Muscari too

 

 

 

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26 thoughts on “April 7th 2016 Companions for tulips

  1. Perhaps annuals that reseed each year? When I had sun, I overplanted bulbs with a chartreuse foliage selection of Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) and the bright purple flowering Celosia spicata Flamingo Feather. If these don’t grow for you, there might be other annuals to consider.

  2. Oh it’s most interesting to read what you are growing with your tulips Christina. They’re one bulb that I’ve never done well with. Although I love the flowers I must confess to disliking the foliage intensely so it’s good to see what they can be mixed up with. I particularly like your combination with the anemones.

    • Short growing Hemerocallis grows at almost the same time as the tulips so you don’t see their foliage at all. I agree, their foliage is their least attractive feature.

  3. It must be very satisfying not to have to treat expensive Tulip bulbs as annuals Christina and to have them naturalise is unheard of in our wet English climate. I love Stipa tenuissima as a companion to Tulips, but haven’t tried Euphorbia myrsinites, I shall though, its one of my favourite Euphorbias. I grow Carex comans bronze with Ballerina tulips but obviously in tubs!

    • I don’t really think tulips are all that expensive; people spend a lot more on annual bedding; but I understand what you mean. Your combination of Carex and Ballerina sounds lovely.

  4. I don’t have tulips but Hemerocallis has done the best job for me in hiding daffodil foilage as it dies back. I remain incredibly envious over your tulips.

  5. I love seeing your tulips and anemones each spring, they are two of my favorite flowers and it’s nice to see them settling in so happily in your garden. I think the purple tulips and anemones is my favorite, but you of course can’t beat the pure white.
    I see the same results here with rebloom. The garden gets very dry each summer and the tulips go from good to better as the years go by until finally needing division.

    • To be honest, I’ve never divided the tulips; the T. White Dream need it as lots have come up without flowers, they were planted quite densely originally which doesn’t help.

  6. I spotted this in my inbox just as I was settling down to work and just had to read it! I agree that stipa tenuissima works exceptionally well with tulips, and I adore the acid yellow of the euphorbia with the ballerina tulips, as I think I have mentioned before. Forget-me-nots work well for me, I am still unconvinced by day lilies, though mine have had a stay of execution and are to be moved into the front garden. Perhaps. I’ve seen people use geraniums with tulips, but that is more to cover the foliage once they flowers are over, I much prefer solutions that provide a good foil for the flowers as well as ground-cover and tatty leaf concealment. I am hoping to revamp the central bed in my front garden this year, and intend to add a range of orange and rusty brown/orange tulips to the mix amidst a sea of stipa.

    And now to work…

    • It may seem obvious but not all Hemerocallis are the same; some are profuse flowerers and others much less generous. H. Stella d’Oro definitely has a longer season than most and bulks up quickly, I’ve divided mine several times already.

  7. You have posed a really interesting question, Christina, and one that possibly applies to many spring bulbs – although as Anna says tulip leaves often leave a lot to be desired! My tulips in the bold borders have some hemerocallis foliage to keep them company and a clump of Uncinia rubrum – so I can vouch that these work well. I intend to ‘bulk’ plant tulips towards the back of the shrub border for next season, and even though many of the shrubs are still establishing there should be enough of a framework to complement the tulips, especially as many of the shrubs have winter interest – or at least that is what I am hoping!

  8. Hola Christina me ha encantado todos sus tulipanes y las ideas para ocultar su follaje. Lo que más me gusta es con euphorbia myrsinites. Muchas gracias por tantas ideas bonitas. Saludos de Margarita. margarita141.

  9. Always love seeing the ways you use tulips. They do their dying act as attractively as Camille…or am I crazy to admire what’s left after the petals fall?

    • Yes, I think the Euphorbia works best mainly because the tulips easily grow through the stems, other plants sometimes firm too thick a mat. That happened in one half of the spring walk with scisirinchium (spelling?)

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