The Q&A Archives: Bulbs in Containers

Question: I want to plant bulbs in a pot, and layer them so different bulbs will bloom at different times. How do I do this?

Answer: One of the most important considerations in planting bulbs in a container, is to make sure it has adequate drainage holes on the bottom. You'll want a pot that's about 12-inches deep, to allow for layering, and for adequate root growth. Use regular potting soil and fill the pot half-way. Then place the largest bulbs in the soil, leaving about two-inches between them. Add a few inches of soil on top and place the smaller bulbs in the soil, making sure they're occupying the empty spaces between the larger bulbs rather than being placed directly above the ones that you just planted. Then fill the container with additional potting soil and water everything well to help settle the bulbs and remove any air pockets near the bulbs. The important thing to remember is that bulbs need to be placed at the proper depth (usually about twice as deep as they are wide). Because above-ground planters and containers are exposed to colder temperatures than anything planted in the ground, they need a bit of protection during the coldest months of winter. You can bury the pot to its rim in the garden, and mulch over the top to help protect the bulbs, or you can store the pot in the garage or basement where the temperatures will remain above freezing. Check the soil and add water if it begins to dry out, but don't keep the soil too moist or the bulbs will rot. When the bulbs sprout and the foliage is about 2-inches high, you can take the pot outdoors and enjoy your spring flowering bulbs on the deck or patio.

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