Horticulture Magazine

10 Tips For Planting Bulbs In Pots

multiple yellow daffodils

Planting bulbs in pots is a great option for beginners, and is pretty easy to do, but here are some tips to help you make sure everything goes smoothly.

Plenty of bulbs are suitable for container growing – and if you make the right choices, you can enjoy longer-lasting displays of blooms and combine bulbs to beautiful effect.

Planting bulbs in pots does not usually require a lot of work or effort, but here are some tips to help you get the best results possible and make all the right choices for your container garden:

1) Choose the Right Container

crocus bulbs being hand planted into a terracotta pot

Choosing the right containers can make a big difference to the success of your garden.

Most spring bulbs like relatively free-draining conditions.

It is important to choose a container that will not retain too much moisture, while still retaining enough moisture to keep your plants happy.

Terracotta pots are often an excellent choice – they are more eco-friendly than plastic pots, and also provide the right conditions for many bulbs.

They are also sturdier and less likely to blow over than lighter weight options when taller bulb plants are grown.

2) Choose An Appropriate Growing Medium

soil being shovelled into a small plastic pot

Of course, as well as thinking about your containers and what they are made from, it is also important to think about how you fill your pots.

When planting bulbs, you will usually fill your containers with a good quality, peat-free potting mix of some kind.

Since many bulbs like relatively free-draining conditions, it is also often a good idea to add some sand or grit to the mix to improve drainage.

Make sure you use crocks to cover drainage holes at the base so that these do not become blocked and water can drain through.

3) Choose Your Bulbs

spring bulbs used in lasagna pots

Another important piece of the puzzle is choosing the right bulbs to plant – and there are many different options to choose from.

The key is choosing plants that are suited to the growing conditions where you live.

It is also important to think about when each of the bulbs you are considering is in bloom.

By choosing the right bulbs, you can enjoy flowers over a much longer period.

Think about selecting bulbs that flower in early spring, mid-spring, and towards the end of the season, for example.

That way, you will have flowers for pollinators at each crucial time of the year, and also extend the period of visual appeal.

4) Layer Bulbs For A ‘Bulb Lasagne’

hyacinths in flower as part of a container bulb lasagne

If you select the right combinations of bulbs, you can sometimes layer these in a single container to make a bulb lasagne.

It is important, however, to make sure that you understand how to layer the bulbs correctly.

The latest blooming flowers will be placed in the lowest layer, with earlier flowering bulbs higher up in the container.

5) Beautiful Bulb Combinations

tulips and daffodils in containers with a bulb planter

When thinking about how to combine bulbs in a container, be sure to think not only about their blooming period and growing requirements but also about how they will look together.

Careful consideration of colour, form and size can help you find great container combinations for flowering plants.

You might combine tulips and daffodils, for example, or a succession of hyacinths and miniature irises… there are plenty of beautiful bulb combinations that will allow you to get plenty of value from a single container.

6) Understand Planting Depths

dibber showing planting depths in a rectangular planter

As well as understanding when bulbs will be in bloom, it is also important to think about the planting depth required for each particular bulb.

Some bulbs (tulips for example) should be planted much more deeply than others.

hand planting gladioli bulbs

As a general rule, bulbs should be planted at a depth of around 3 times their own height.

Though this can vary somewhat depending on which bulbs you are growing, this general guideline can help you avoid going too far wrong when planting your bulbs.

7) Plant Bulbs The Right Way Up

hand planting bulbs on a potting bench with white background

Bulbs should be planted the right way up. This might sound obvious – but with certain bulbs it is not always easy to tell.

For many bulbs, the end that faces upwards is more pointed, and the rooting base is flatter.

But with some bulbs, it can be very difficult to see this clearly.

If in doubt, plant bulbs on their sides if possible as they should still grow successfully in this configuration.

8) Space Around A Bulb Width Apart

widths demonstrated in a planter using a dibber and measuring tape

Spacing can also be important.

When growing bulbs in a container, you will usually place bulbs more closely together than when growing them in the ground.

Again, this is just a general rule of thumb, and there are exceptions, but you should generally think about spacing bulbs around their own width apart from one another.

9) Mulch The Container

heavily mulched crocus in flower

It can be a good idea to mulch over the top of the container after planting your bulbs.

An organic mulch of compost or leaf mould will add fertility as well as retaining moisture in the container.

You might also add a decorative gravel mulch, or something similar as a soil cover.

10) Use A Mesh Cover For Protection

blue mesh shown covering a patch of plants

Finally, after planting bulbs in a container in autumn, you might want to think about adding some protection to protect the bulbs over the winter months.

If you have squirrels or cats in your garden, they may sometimes dig up and eat your bulbs.

If you have cats or squirrels around, one solution to consider is using a piece of mesh to cover over the top of the pots containing bulbs to keep them safe.

This mesh should then be removed in the spring once your plants start to emerge from the soil.

As you can see from the above, planting bulbs in pots is very straightforward, and you don’t have to be very green-fingered to give it a go.

Just bear the above tips in mind and you should enjoy a beautiful flowering display.

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