Erik Healy is the lead horticulturist at Moore Farms Botanical Garden and owner of Healy Horticulture. Follow Erik’s blog at

This article applies to:



Plant Your Bulbs in Turf!
by Erik Healy    

Planting bulbs in turf is a great way to enhance your landscape and add a spark of interest to your lawn. Plantings can either be annual or perennial, and you can choose from a wide variety of bulbs. It adds a naturalistic touch to your lawn and provides a little surprise beauty during those times when you’re not mowing as often. Now is a great time to plan and plant your own turf-bulb surprise.

First, choose a bulb that is perennial in your area.

Next, find the area where you want to plant. Remember, you must be willing to not mow the turf until the bulb foliage dies down. Waiting to mow is crucial. Around March gardeners across the South start sharpening their mower blades in anticipation of warm weather, myself included, but for bulbs to perennialize they must be allowed to keep their foliage after flowering so they can store energy for the following year.



Another important factor is irrigation. If bulbs receive too much water during the summer they tend to rot. Turf under trees generally stays drier and is a great place for establishing a perennial bulb planting. Ipheion uniflorum (spring star flower), pictured here with the bicycle, is a great choice for the South.


Ornithogalum umbellatum (star of Bethlehem) is another great bulb that will perennialize in turf. 
This photo was taken at my friend Jenks Farmer’s family home (


In turf areas that are more formal, an annual bulb planting might be a better choice. Instead of having a mass of bulbs, organic flowing lines work well with formal designs.

It’s easy to plant your own formal bulb design in turf. Follow these few simple steps, and you will amaze people with your garden creativity next spring.


Use a can of spray paint to draw the lines of the design you want.
Then use an edger with a metal blade to cut a trench for planting.


In this type of planting, small bulbs work best. Since this is just an annual planting,
space the bulbs close together for maximum effect during the bloom time. 


Make sure the bulbs are just below the turf,
then cover the trench with sand and water-in the bulbs


Crocus vernus
 ’Flower Record’ is a great small bulb for this style of planting. 


In an annual planting, once the bulbs have finished flowering you remove the bulbs from the turf. This makes a clean slate for a new design next year, and also means you don’t have to wait to mow until the foliage dies down. 


For more pictures and information on bulbs in the South, visit Moore Farms Botanical Gardens at


Posted: 09/30/15   RSS | Print


Share this story on:
Facebook       Twitter            

Other People Are Reading