If you’ve got your ear to the ground in November, chances are you’ve collapsed from burying one too many spring bulbs (this is how some would define “overplanting”). But don’t throw in the trowel just yet—there’s still time to cover that booty of bulbs with bedding plants and groundcovers. Whether you sow seed or set out seedlings from cell-packs, planting over your subterranean treasure is a must if you want to keep spring rains from splattering mud on the Sparaxis. Besides covering the bare earth, companion plants support the bulbs’ stems, and their foliage and blooms supply additional color and texture. Where they’ve been left in the ground to naturalize, overplanting will also help to cloak the bulbs’ fading foliage as they nod off into dormancy.

When deciding what to overplant, you’ll naturally look for compatible flower colors and bloom times, and don’t ignore the obvious: overplanted herbage should be no more than about half as high as the bulb flower. Lastly, for the least expense, consider overplanting with seed—some old standbys are California Poppy, Sweet Alyssum, Virginia Stocks, Linaria and Baby Blue Eyes.

Virginia Stocks - Illustration by Helen Krayenhoff

About the author