You don’t need to wait until spring and summer to fill those pots and containers. Beautiful displays of daffodil, tulip, hyacinth and crocus can be started now for a wonderful display of bright colour in late winter extending well into late spring. It is easy, fun and so rewarding when the flowers open providing blooms right where you want them often with a fragrance to boot.
Selecting the Bulbs
There are many spring flowering bulbs that work very well for container gardening. One should select shorter growing varieties as they tend to lend themselves to pot and containers better than very tall varieties. A few that do extremely well are Anemonae blanda, Chionodoxus, Crocus, daffodils (narcissus), Galanthus, Hyacinth, iris, Muscari, Scilla and botanical Tulips.
These can all be obtained at Arts Nursery from September to early December.
Pots and Containers
It is generally very easy to find a pot or container to plant a bulb garden in as they seem to be in every gardener’s garage and storage shed. It is important to have a hole in the bottom to provide drainage. Some broken pot shards or gravel will help provide good drainage as well.
How to Plant
Planting the bulbs is really very easy. Place a humus rich soil mixture or soilless potting mix in the pot and then plant the bulbs just as you would in the garden. Generally we like to plant the bulb three times deeper than the height of the bulb and close together but not so close as to have the bulbs touching each other. You can even layer the same bulb in a large container.
To extend the bloom time the bulbs can be planted at different depths with the lower layer at 8 inches deep, a second layer at 6 inches deep and the final layer at 4 inches deep. The more shallow planted bulbs will bloom first followed by the deeper plantings. In this way you will have tulips blooming over an extended period up to two weeks longer than a tub with all the bulbs planted at the same depth.
You can have a really fun time planting different bulbs in layers with the largest bulbs at the lowest layer, medium sized bulbs in the middle and the smallest bulbs in the upper layer. This can result in some wonderful continuing blasts of color in the spring.
Some good combinations that may be planted together are: Narcissus (bottom) and Hyacinth (top), Muscari (bottom) and Anemonae blanda (top), Anemonae blanda (bottom) and Chionodoxa (top), and for an even more spectacular effect plant three layers such as Tulip (bottom) with Hyacinth (middle) and Crocus (top). The combinations are almost endless and the display will be wonderful. Be sure to cover the top layer of bulbs with soil to the top of the pot and water.
Waiting for Spring
For best results it is advised to place the pots and containers in a shallow trench and cover with some leaves or branches to prevent the pots from freezing. In this way the bulbs will develop a good root system during the cold winter months allowing them to put on a good display in the spring.
In early spring the pots and containers can be lifted from the soil and placed in protected, sunny locations around the home exterior. With warmth, stems will soon appear and you will be in for a real spring treat of colour and fragrance.
By Del L. Knowlton