How to Plant Bulbs in a Container - dummies

By Bill Marken, Suzanne DeJohn, The Editors of the National Gardening Association

Planting just one variety of bulbs per pot ensures that all the bulbs in the pot will bloom at the same time. Mixing varieties in a container, on the other hand, results in flowers coming at different times, which has much less impact. If you want different flower colors and bloom times, grow different varieties in separate containers. These steps describe the typical way to plant bulbs. Expect the results to be containers dense with flowers:

1Figure out which end is up.

If you plant bulbs upside down or sideways, you’re asking them to waste time and energy taking a circuitous run to daylight. Examine your bulbs for root remnants at the base — that end goes down.

2Fill your pot part way with soil mix — enough so that bulbs placed upright on this layer end up with their tops 1 inch below the rim of the pot.

The bloom season for most bulbs can be short, two or three weeks at best for daffodils and tulips. If you want a longer bloom season, check out the bloom dates of the bulbs you buy. Daffodil and tulip varieties, for example, are described as early-, mid-, and late-season, relative to the average bloom time for that plant. For an extended bloom season, choose varieties with staggered bloom dates, planting each type in its own container so you can display them at peak bloom.

3Space bulbs so that they’re gently touching or no more than 1/2 inch apart, and press the base of the bulbs into the soil to keep them standing straight.

Place any larger bulbs at the center of the group.

4Fill in around the bulbs, and barely cover the tops of the bulbs with soil mix.

For container-grown bulbs, you want a mix that’s well drained but that holds adequate moisture. Most commercial potting mixes work well. Because the bulb itself is a food storage structure, bulbs that grow only one season need little or no fertilizer. A soil mix that contains starter fertilizer is adequate, or you can mix in a small amount of bulb fertilizer at planting time.

5Water gently with a watering can or hose set at a trickle until the soil mix is fully moistened.

Some spring-blooming bulbs require a special chilling period before they’ll grow and bloom.