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How to Plant Bulbs in Containers

The first and most important detail of any container planting, be it bulbs, perennials or shrubs, is to ensure there’s adequate drainage. Check that your chosen container, and I prefer natural materials such as terracotta, clay and so on, has drainage holes in the base, which then needs to be covered in a layer of crocks or drainage materials in the bottom. This is when those broken china pots can be used up. Bulbs will quickly rot in waterlogged, poorly drained compost.

Different types of bulbs require different planting depths, but s a general rule of thumb they should be planted to at least their own depth in a light compost, and twice their depth in a heavier compost. Even the smallest bulbs should have at least 5cm (2.5 inches) of soil above them.

In order to maintain a succession of flowers, several types of bulbs can be planted in the same pot, providing it’s deep enough. Once the drainage layer is in place, add a layer of compost (potting compost is ideal for this), and place the biggest bulbs on this, such as Narcissi. Then add a further layer of compost to about 2.5 inches and place the next layer, in this case, Tulips.

Add a further layer of compost and plant your final bulbs, such as crocus, and top the container off, finishing the compost an inch below the top of the pot to allow for successful watering. The stems will work around each other in order to get to the light.

 

Planting bulbs in containers for spring colour

In general, spring flowering bulbs are planted in the autumn. They can provide colour from February through until May. Once the bulbs have flowered, they can be moved out into the garden. Unless you are trying to collect seed, remove the spent flowerheads and allow the foliage to start to die down, before cutting back. This ensures that the bulbs can build up food supplies for the following year.

Bulbs for spring include:

  • Anemone blanda, A. pavonina
  • Chionodoxa (all species)
  • Most of the crocuses
  • Daffodils (Narcissus)
  • Erythronium
  • Grape Hyacinths (Muscari)
  • Hyacinths (Hyacinth reticulata)
  • Iris histroides
  • Ornithogalum montanum
  • Pucshkinia
  • Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
  • Spring Snowflake (Leucojum vernum)
  • Squills (Scilla)
  • Fritillary (Fritillaria pallidiflora, F. imperialis, F. pyrenaicum, F. meleagris)
  • Onion (Allium narcissiflorum)
  • Corydalis solida ‘George Baker’
  • Ipheon uniflorum ‘Wisley Blue’
  • Globe Lily (Calochortus albus)
  • Widow Iris (Hermodactylus tuberosus)
  • Cyclamen libonaticum
  • Sternbergia candida



 

 

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