Planting bulbs, lasagna style

Layering flower bulbs like a lasagna in a planting bed or container maximizes the impact of your bulbs in a small space.

Lasagna style planting of bulbs
Graphic by Isabel Branstrom, MSU Extension

Lasagna is a wonderful Italian dish consisting of layers and layers of deliciousness. Pasta, tomato sauce, meat, cheese and vegetables—the choice of ingredients seems endless and no matter how you layer it, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Here is another lasagna idea that will also be a crowd pleaser. Referred to as “flower bulb lasagne” by the Dutch, flower bulbs are layered in a planting bed or container to maximize the impact of your bulbs in a small space.

By carefully selecting the color, variety and flowering time of the bulbs, you can achieve a bed or container that will give you a continuous succession of flowers throughout the season. The biggest advantage of planting the bulbs in containers is they can be displayed indoors or outdoors.

The key is to layer the smaller or early flowering bulbs above the larger and later flowering bulbs. By selecting colors and textures that complement each other, you will achieve a striking display. The combinations are endless but for a good show, be sure to mix both early and midseason flowering bulbs; daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, snowflakes, crocus and grape hyacinths are all great choices.

Flower bulbs


  • Trowel, shovel or bulb planter
  • Bulbs (several various varieties)
  • Fertilizer (optional)
  • Compost (optional)
  • Mulch (optional)


  1. Select a planting site. Most bulbs do best in full sun and well-drained soil. Avoid wet areas with heavy clay soil.
  2. Prepare the planting site. Remove debris like rocks or roots from the planting area. If desired, work organic compost or leaf mulch into the soil.
  3. Dig a hole or trench. The hole should be three to four times as deep as the largest bulbs are tall.
  4. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed end up. If planting several bulbs, they should be spaced about three to four times as far apart as they are wide.
  5. Plant the larger bulbs first followed by the smaller bulbs. Add soil between each layer like the sauce of your lasagna to achieve the correct planting depth for each species you are planting.
  6. You may decide to add a small amount of natural fertilizer or a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 between layers as well.
  7. After the last layer of soil or compost, water the planting bed area.
  8. If desired, cover the bed with 2 to 3 inches of mulch such as shredded bark, wood chips or seedless straw. This will help insulate the bulbs from thawing and freezing, as well as look great like the gooey cheese on lasagna.

In the spring you will have an explosion of colors and textures that will delight you throughout the season.

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