Planting spring bulbs in containers is a great way to enjoy these flowers when you have little space they can also dress up your front steps or back patio in the spring. The other fun thing is they are movable! Out front one day, in the back the next, maybe even inside for a little while. Planting bulbs in pots is a great way to experiment with bulbs if you’re new to the flower or to give to friends and family as gifts, hello Mothers Day!
When planting spring bulbs in containers you need to first take the type of container you are going to use in mind. Terracotta pots work, as well as saved greenhouse pots from previous years. The simple black plastic greenhouse pots work great if you’re able to set them inside a more decorative pot in the spring. The thing to keep in mind is to save the larger pots for the daffodils and tulips and the smaller pots for flowers like crocus, muscari and hyacinth.
Packaging on the bulbs will have specific instructions on how deep the bulb should be planted, you will also want to make sure to leave some space below the bulb to allow for root growth, this also ensures there is enough space for drainage. When planting your flower bulbs in pots be sure to plant them close together, no more than an inch or two apart.
Choosing the right soil for bulbs is also very important. Flower bulbs like to be in well drained soil, generally digging dirt from your yard or buying the generic potting soil won’t be the best option for your flowers. You can always talk to the people at your local garden store to find the best option.
Planting Spring Bulbs
As I said before the bulbs will all have directions on their packaging indicating how deep to plant them. One of the fun things with planting a container with fall bulbs is the ability to layer the bulbs and have a variety of different flowers in the same pot.
Daffodils and tulips need to be planted deeper so you will want to put them in first, then add a layer of soil and plant some smaller bulbs, crocus or muscari on top of them and then cover those with dirt as well. With a nicely designed container you will have the smaller flowers bloom toward the outer edges and the larger taller flowers will be located in the middle. This design will give you a lovely container with several flowers that will last all spring.
Another design concept you can consider is when your bulbs bloom. Generally crocus and muscari are the first to bloom in early spring, then flowers like daffodils and hyacinth, then tulips and allium. If you plant a variety of bulbs this will allow you to enjoy your container for months.
Bulbs that bloom in the spring require a period of cold temperatures. But you need to take into consideration that the containers your bulbs are in will get much colder than the ground temperatures, because of this you need to store your containers in a place that will be cold but not so cold that they are frozen all winter. Your bulbs need temperatures below 48 degrees but above freezing, as some varieties don’t do well when frozen for long periods. Some options depending on which zone you’re living in are to put your container in the refrigerator for several weeks, as long as there is not fruit in the fridge too. Using your garage can be an option, a root cellar, or if you do have some outdoor space available you can dig a hole and place your pot in it for the winter. If you use the last option be sure to cover the pot with some leaves or straw to help insulate them.
Waking Your Bulbs in the Spring
As spring approaches be on the look out for green shoots to start emerging from the soil, once this begins it is time to move the containers to a place where they will get sunlight. You can ease them into light by placing them in indirect sunlight for a few days at first and gradually move them to a location with direct sunlight. Water the bulbs as needed but be careful not to over water them, generally bulbs don’t like to be in soil that is water logged.
Enjoy and Aftercare
Now that you’ve carefully cared for your bulbs through the winter it is time to enjoy them through the spring. Bulbs that are planted in containers are generally treated as annuals, meaning you will need to replant them annually. If you would like to try to salvage your bulbs you can dig them up and plant them out in a garden bed as soon as the flowers fade, if not you can always just compost the bulbs or dig them up, store them in a cool dry place to be planted again in the fall.