The Q&A Archives: Planting Tulips in Containers

Question: I purchased some tulip bulbs and would like to plant them in containers since I live in an apartment. All the directions are for planting bulbs outside in a yard. Do you have any suggestions on how to plant them in pots - successfully?

Answer: Boy do I ever! First thing first, tulips, unless prechilled by the nursery, need 12-14 weeks of about 40F temperatures to meet their dormancy requirements. The only bulbs that don't require this period are Paperwhite daffodils. So, plant them in pots as described below and by mid January, check the bulbs and when you start seeing some green growth, bring them indoors. When planting the bulbs drainage is vital. Try using a 6-8" deep container with a diameter of approximately 12". Drainage holes should be at least 1" in diamter and 6" apart. Use a general purpose potting mix with a little bit (follow instructions) of bulb fertilizer such as "Bulb Booster" (The Holland Company). Plant bulbs 1-2" apart, 4-5" deep. Some hints: containers look best if you "layer", plant large bulbs such as tulips in the first layer of soil, cover bulbs with soil, then plant smaller bulbs such as crocus, anemone, etc. If you are expecting a severe frost bring your container into a protected area (but not inside your home where it will be too warm). Try the garage or a storage shed (at this point you will be glad you didn't opt for a bigger container)!

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