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Planting Bulbs In Containers

by Miguel Mori
Planting Bulbs In Containers

Planting Bulbs In Containers

By Joanne Young

Planting short-term bulb displays in layers maximizes the amount of flower power pots can contain.

Fall Bulbs vs. Summer Bulbs

Fall Bulbs

- winter hardy-can be left in the ground year after year

- plant in the fall

- blooms early spring-summer

Summer Bulbs

- tender-must be dug up in fall

- plant in late spring

- blooms summer to fall


Choosing A Pot

  • Choose a container that can withstand being in cold temperature – non-porous pots are best.
  • Choose a pot with adequate drainage holes
  • Choose pots that are as deep as the eventual height of your tallest bulb.

Planting Your Bulbs

  • Use a soil mix that drains very well so the bulbs will sit in moist but not soggy soil.
  • Plant the bulbs just as you would in the ground, at a soil depth of three times the diameter of the bulb.
  • Place larger bulbs at the bottom move upwards until the smallest bulbs are no more than twice their own depth.
  • In each layer, the more you are able to fill the container, the better the display, but avoid bulbs touching.
  • If planting more than one type of bulb in the same container and they require different planting depths, you can layer the bulbs in the container as shown in the diagram above.
  • Fill the container to the right level for the largest bulbs to be put in first. Then cover them with soil until it’s at the proper depth to plant the next smaller sized bulb. Repeat until all the bulbs have put planted. Finally, fill the container with soil, being sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of space between the surface of the soil and the top of the container for easy watering.

Bulb Care & Maintenance 

  • Water the planted container thoroughly, then water periodically through¬out the winter. The bulbs should not sit in soil that is too wet, but you don’t want them to dry out entirely.
  • Keep the container where it will stay cool for at least 8 weeks – garage or shed would be best. If the pot is left exposed outside the bulbs may freeze too solid.
  • To break dormancy, bulbs need moisture and warmth following a period of cold. This is why bulbs packed tightly into pots will provide a reliable flower display. After flowering, some bulbs can be planted out into the garden – but they may take a year off and only produce leaves while they build up reserves for flowering the following year.

“A flower bulb is an underground storehouse and flower factory.  Within the bulb is everything that the plant will need to sprout and flower at the appropriate time.”

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