The Q&A Archives: Bulbs In Containers

Question: I would like to try something new this year and plant my spring garden in terra cotta containers. I like the idea of being able to "change out" plants allowing the spring foliage to yellow naturally (in a less visible location) when the annuals begin their color. My idea is to plant the bulbs (tulips, dafodills, crocus, and anemone) in the 8" pots in the fall, and bury the pots in the garden at ground level. Then let the plants winter outside, bloom in their containers and lift the pots out after the bloom season it complete. The containers could be moved to either a Northern, Southern or Western exposure to yellow. My question is, are their any specific requirements for container gardens I am overlooking? Which exposure would be best to allow the foliage to yellow? Does this idea have merit? Thanks.

Answer: Many gardeners do exactly what you describe. Your idea of lifting the pots when the flowers are spent is a good one. You can allow the foliage to yellow and wither on its own without having the process detract from other blooming plants. As long as you're burying the pots in the ground, the bulbs won't need any other special care. If, however, you plan to put your bulbs into above-ground terra cotta containers, keep the following information in mind:

In cold climates, bulbs planted in containers often don t overwinter well. Containers are exposed to repeated freezing and thawing during the winter, and this can damage the bulbs. Your best bet is to bring the containers to a protected spot, ideally onewhere the temperature will stay around 40 degrees F throughout the winter. This temperature will satisfy the bulbs chilling requirement.

The bulbs should be kept moist, but not waterlogged. Kept in a cool spot, they shouldn t need watering very often during the winter. Check them regularly, and water them if the soil is dry at a depth of an inch or so.

If you can t move your containers to a protected spot, huddle them together in a group and mulch with a thick layer of bark mulch.

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