Hide Spent Early-bloomers With Strategic Planting
Early-blooming bulbs are one of the first signs of spring, but as the flowers fade, so does their charm. Hide wilting leaves, which need to stay put in order for bulbs to return the next year, by adding perennial companions with perfect timing
While tulips are flowering—March, April, or May, depending on the variety—cranesbill (alias hardy geranium) creates a base for the tall blossoms with its mounding foliage. Once the tulips’ time is up, cranesbill’s spreading habit and carpet of blooms, which appear midsummer through fall, take over.
Both of these sun lovers can tolerate some shade, but spring-blooming daffs will be gone before phlox transforms from a mat of dense foliage to a bountiful spread of flowers. Expect the first phlox blossoms in mid-July; if the weather stays warm, phlox can provide color through September.
Though some can grow to be 6 feet tall, penstemon (a.k.a. beardtongue) is a slow starter, so it won’t overpower the much shorter (12 inches, tops) hyacinth. And while hyacinths are early bloomers (think March and April), penstemon’s trumpet-shaped flowers don’t appear until summer.