Missed Out on Planting Bulbs? Plant in Containers

The result is a bouquet of spring blooms in a large pot.

Posted by Erica Glasener | Nov 10, 2011
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Photo: Erica GlasenerDepending on where you live, (Zone 5 to 7) October and November are typically the best months to add spring-flowering bulbs including daffodils and tulips to your garden.  The ideal soil temperature, 60 degrees F at 6-12 inches deep usually occurs after the first hard frost.  The good news is that even if you don't live where you can grow bulbs in the ground, you can create container gardens that will provide weeks of spring color. 


Bulb expert and owner of Brent and Becky's Bulbs, Brent Heath uses the term "sequential pot" to describe his creations that feature layers of bulbs for maximum impact.  In the same pot he will plant lilies, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, layering them on top of each other.  The result is a bouquet of spring blooms in a large pot. 


What you need

1. Select a large weather-proof plastic or pottery pot with drainage holes.  Bulbs should be planted at a depth that is 3x their height.  With a pot that is 24 inches wide and tall, you will have room for at least 3 layers. 

2. A layer of foam for the inside edge of the pot to keep it insulated.

3. Newspaper

4. Coarse gravel

5. A potting soil that holds moisture but also drains well such as bark/compost or ground pine bark with coarse sand mix. 


Planting up your container

1. Cover the bottom of the pot with a few layers of newspaper to prevent soil from washing out the drainage holes. 

2. If you have problems with mice or voles, add a 1inch layer of gravel on top of the newspaper. To prevent squirrels from eating your daffodils, Walter Reeves, the Georgia Gardener, suggested on Hometalk.com to cover the bed (or in this case container) with chicken wire and mulch.

3. Add a layer of moist potting soil on top of the gravel.

4. Place the bulbs that bloom latest, i.e. lilies, on top of the soil.  The pointed tips should face up.  Cover them with soil; continue layering bulbs.

5. Topdress with bulb fertilizer only if you plan to add these bulbs to the garden at a later date.  Do not add fertilizer to soil when you plant. 

6. Water the pot so that the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.

7. Locate the pot in the shade (the north side of a building) so that stays uniformly cool all winter.  You can also store them in an unheated garage or cool basement. Cover pots with mulch or place them in plastic bags filled with leaves.

8. The bulbs need to be chilled (this will insure that roots and flower buds form) for 12 to 16 weeks.  The temperature should be between 32 and 48 F.

9. Water as needed to keep soil moist, every few weeks.

10. Once the fear of hard freezes is past in the spring, move the pots to a sunny location.  Be sure to remove any mulch or leaves used for insulation and look for buds and shoots.  In no time you will have flowers. 


Professional Tip

Group bulbs together which bloom around the same time, such as early to mid-season tulips with early to mid-season daffodils and hyacinths. 


Horticulturist Erica Glasener is a Hometalk - http://www.networx.com/article/missed-out-on-planting-bulbs-plant-in-c - writer. Get home & garden ideas like this - http://www.networx.com/article/missed-out-on-planting-bulbs-plant-in-c - on Hometalk.com.

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