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Landscaping with Bulbs: Size and Height

When choosing your plants or bulbs, don't forget to consider the natural, fully-grown height of the flower. Just as mixing colors can create a visual appeal, adding plants of different heights can complement your bulbs. In general, taller-growing plants and bulbs such as lilies, some crocosmia varieties, and gladiolus should be planted toward the back of the beds. Shorter plants and bulbs, such as begonias, tulips, and daffodils make for good front-facing plants. Just like in group photos - put the short ones in front!

However, you may want to make your own exceptions to that rule. For example, a shorter bulb may emerge and bloom early before the plant located in front grows large enough to screen it. Once the bloom period is past, the larger, front plant will screen the maturing foliage of the shorter plant. A tall, lacy plant can be treated as a short plant since its delicate foliage won't hide others behind it.

Use plants of differing heights to complement each other, as well as your landscape structures. Tall flowers like dahlias may be used in the corner of the garden or yard, where they are viewed from a distance. Shorter-growing bulbs can be used at the bases of taller plants, trees, and other landscape elements.

Remember that a tall, full plant may look short and spindly for the first growing season or two. Try planting a group of young plants and thinning them as they mature, or fill in the empty spaces with annuals or some bulbs you lift in fall, giving you the opportunity to reassess the number you'll need to replant in the spring. To keep the garden interesting, try providing a variety of sizes all season long.

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