Imagine drifts of vibrant yellow daffodils on your property as far as the eye can see, casually blooming as if Mother Nature scattered the bulbs with cheerful abandon.
Except Mother Nature didn’t plant them — your landscaping crews did, using a planting technique called "naturalizing" that makes it look like the flowers popped up naturally in waves of impressive color.
Here’s what you need to know about naturalizing bulbs to make it happen on your commercial property.
What Does Naturalizing Bulbs Mean?
Naturalizing bulbs means planting large numbers of flowering bulbs informally, mixed in with turf or other plantings, so they look like they popped up naturally.
Certain flowers are great for naturalizing, because they grow from self-propagating bulbs — they spread freely and multiply, so you get more flowers each year, without even trying.
No formal lines of flowers here — naturalizing bulbs are scattered to grow in drifts with gentle curves that flow throughout your landscaping.
Plant them once, leave them alone, and they come back each spring with even more vigor. A few hundred bulbs can become thousands.
It’s the kind of massive, impressive display that attracts attention, customers, visitors, and potential tenants to your commercial landscape.
Why Naturalizing is Good For Commercial Landscapes
Many commercial properties are perfect for naturalizing bulbs, says Doug Delano, managing partner at Level Green Landscaping.
Do you have large expanses of turf? Areas of fields or meadows? Woodland areas?
Big areas like this look great with drifts of spring flowers mixed in, thanks to self-propagating bulbs that naturalize.
But smaller properties can naturalize bulbs, too, Delano says.
“They work great in perennial beds or in front of shrubs,” he says. “They really make an impact. You get this great color for two to three weeks.”
If you mix different varieties of bulbs that bloom at different times, you can stretch that color to two to three months, Delano says.
White snowdrops bloom early, in February. Mix in crocus, allium, and daffodils, Delano says, and you extend the blooming season from January to April.
“By then, we’re all looking for color in the landscape,” Delano says. “Bulbs give you a big hit of color.”
If you have perennial beds on your property, filled with plants like ornamental grasses, daylilies, and rudbeckia, underplant them with self-propagating bulbs, he says.
As the season goes on, those plants hide the fading foliage from the bulbs.
Naturalizing Bulbs Tip: Don’t Mow Down the Foliage
Flowering bulbs get their energy for the next flowering cycle through their foliage.
So, if your bulbs for naturalizing are scattered in your lawn, don’t mow until the flowers’ leaves have completely withered away — or you may not get flowers next year.
What Bulbs Are The Best For Naturalizing?
Naturalizing daffodils are a Delano favorite. He planted 10,000 daffodil bulbs on his personal property, scattering them in grassy areas where he doesn’t mow until mid-summer.
That’s right, 10,000. When you naturalize bulbs, you go big for the greatest impact.
This isn’t like the 50 bulbs you plant next to your entrance for a spot of color.
You need at least a few hundred for a big impact. But remember, those few hundred self-propagating plants will turn into a few thousand over time.
What’s the Cost of Naturalizing Bulbs?
Daffodil bulbs cost between $1 and $1.50 each, Delano says.
They're a great landscaping value.
“They last for years and multiply, so your display looks bigger and better every year,” he says.
You can start small, he says. Spend $500 to $1,500 for 500 to 1,000 bulbs.
Then, stand back and watch them multiply.
How Long Does it Take For Bulbs to Naturalize?
Will landscaping crews be camping out overnight to plant all those bulbs?
You’d be surprised how fast bulbs can naturalize.
At Level Green, our crews have bulb planting drills, either electric or powered by a small engine. One person drills the hole, the other drops in the bulb.
“Two guys can plant a couple hundred bulbs in an hour,” Delano says.
The hole should be three times as deep as the height of the bulb. (Who says you don’t need math in real life?)
If your bulb is two inches high, dig a hole six inches deep.
Fall is bulb planting season, and here in our area you can get them in as late as December.
The later you plant them, the later they’ll bloom, Delano says. So, if you want to see them in early spring, plant them in early fall.
Ready to Wow with Naturalizing Bulbs? Trust Level Green
Want to wow your customers and visitors with impressive drifts of colorful spring bulbs?
But you don’t feel like planting 5,000 daffodil bulbs?
We don’t blame you. That’s why we’re here.
If you’re not already a Level Green Landscaping client, we’d love to add you to our growing list of happy customers. Our focus is on commercial properties like offices, mixed-use sites, HOAs, municipalities and institutions in Maryland, Washington DC and parts of Virginia.
Contact us at 202-544-0968. You can also request a free consultation online for a virtual meeting.
We’d love to hear from you.
Image sources: yellow and orange daffodils, yellow daffodils