Spring bulbs are a great splash of color. If it’s too late to plant your bulbs in the garden or you want them in spots, like your deck where you need a planter, container gardening is a great option. Follow the container gardening tips below to coax some beautiful spring blooms.
Selecting and Buying Spring Bulbs
Any spring bulb can be planted in a pot, so select those that have the color and fragrance you like. Crocuses will give you very early flowers as will snowdrops. These bulbs are small so you will put quite a few into one pot.
Narcissus will bloom next and they come in a variety of colors, from white through various pale yellows to the traditional bright yellow and even light pink. Tulips of course come in a wide array of colors, shapes and heights. Read all packages carefully so you know what to expect.
Other bulbs you can consider are hyacinths. Popular colors are white, orange, yellow and purple. They all have a wonderful aroma. Grape hyacinths are also very nice for early purple accents.
Make sure that the bulbs you select are firm. There should be no soft spots. If you see blemishes feel very carefully around these. They should not have more than a quarter inch of green stem starting.
Tip for next season: Buying bulbs in November and early December is great for bargain hunters. They are usually on sale, although selection might not be as good. The bulbs can be stored in a cool place over the winter and then potted in the spring for your enjoyment (see below.)
Selecting Pots for Spring Bulbs
The pots you plant in should be fairly large, usually a minimum of 8 inches across and deep. Larger is better, especially for larger bulbs like narcissus, hyacinth and tulip.
Plastic is best as other materials may crack in the cold. If you live in warmer climates (Zone 7 or 8) ceramic or terracotta pots work well. It is better, however to begin growing the bulbs in plastic pot and just sit them in a prettier pot when you put them out in the spring.
Planting the Bulbs
Bulbs should be planted twice as deep as their height. So if your tulip bulb is an inch high, plant it so that the top of the bulb is two inches below the surface.
Planting just one type of bulb in a pot gives the greatest impact. You can combine them though, putting larger bulbs lower in the pot and the smaller ones higher up at their level. The risk with combining bulbs is that you will have extra leaves in the way of your flowers.
Work a little compost or slow release fertilizer into the soil when you plant the bulbs. This will give them the nutrients they need once they start to grow.
If it’s still snowing in your area or you purchase your bulbs during a winter clearance, find a good storage spot like the coldest part of your garage to store them. Once they are planted, store the part in this area until the weather warms up, then moves them outside to begin their growing process.
If you put them outside, make sure they are in a well drained spot. If you get a lot of snow it is good to cover them with some leaves or other material for protection. While you want them to get just as cold as they would in the ground, you also want to avoid a freeze-thaw-freeze-thaw cycle.
In the Spring
In the spring, the bulbs will start to grow when the weather warms. Keep an eye on the pots and when you see shoots of at least an inch high, make sure they are getting sunlight by uncovering them or moving them outdoors. When they are a few inches tall move them to their ultimate location and enjoy the color. You can add color to your garden entrance, front steps or anywhere in your garden that you want to highlight.
When the flowers appear, some compost or fertilizer should be added to feed the bulbs for next year. Once the blooms have died off, the pots can be tucked out of sight while the foliage continues to grow. By letting the leaves die down naturally you will feed the bulb and they will be ready to start again for next year.