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Which bulbs can be planted in containers?

Which bulbs can be planted in containers?

No matter how much space you have, there’s always room for another bulb (or two). Find out which bulbs can be planted in containers and make your living space fill with gardening wonder.

You don’t need a huge garden to grow bulbs. In fact, you don’t actually need a garden at all. If you have some pots or containers you can grow a multitude of indigenous and exotic spring-flowering varieties, as there are many types of bulbs that work well in a pot. 

Spring-flowering bulbs provide the garden with a touch of magic, although when you first get them, you may not realise the amount of enchantment they hold! 

Why should I plant my bulbs in a container? 

Even if you have a garden, growing bulbs in pots is something you should try anyway. Growing in pots has many benefits that have been listed below:

  • Always know exactly where your bulbs are.
  • Move your bulbs wherever they need to go – move the container inside when the plants have flowered to enjoy their beauty indoors and prolong their flowering time.
  • Take them out of sight when their foliage starts to fade. 
  • Finally, you can always take your potted treasures with you if you move or leave home.

Planting in containers really is a win win!

What do I need to pot a bulb? 

Two terracotta containers standing upright. One container on its side with soil spilling out.

To pot a bulb in a container all you need is a few items, some itchy fingers and a positive attitude! If you follow the below list, you should have a spectacular show this coming season:

  • The right sized container with proper drainage for your bulbs is crucial. It should have a depth of at least 10 – 15cm.
  • Light textured potting soil.
  • A semi-shaded position (be sure to read the planting instructions on each bulb pack to make sure you get the right conditions).
  • It is best to plant your bulbs at their correct planting time.
  • Prepare your containers a week before planting (this gives fertilisers time to dissolve. If not, they may burn the bulbs).
  • Add water retaining granules to help the soil retain moisture.
  • You will need to water your bulbs deeply every 3-4 days.
  • For best results, feed your bulbs some Hadeco Bulb Food when planting, during the growing season and most importantly after flowering when they are preparing their next season's blooms!

Which bulbs can be potted?

one red container with daffodils, one black container with blue hyacinth and one white container with pink hyacinth

The main thing to keep in mind is how big the plant will be when it is fully grown. For instance, Sparaxis, Ixia and Tritonia get up to 30cm in height and tulips up to 45cm, so putting the bulb in a tiny pot without much depth is not going to work. You can still plant your bulbs at the same depth as you would in the ground but, planting bulbs in a container allows you to place them closer together.

Although there has been a move towards growing indigenous types - and some say that we’ve fallen out of love with exotic bulbs - the ever-popular varieties will look lovely whether planted in a container or in a border. Some of the easiest exotic bulbs to grow are: daffodils, fragrant Hyacinth, Muscari, Ipheion, all kinds of lilies, and tulips. 

Which bulbs should not be potted?

Bulbs that prefer to expand and spread their roots throughout the soil should be planted in garden beds so that they have as much space to stretch out as possible. These include: Ornithogalum, Dutch iris, Anemone and peonies.

Where should I put my potted bulbs? 

It is important to remember that your winter bulbs won't be happy in areas with excessive heat radiation as they prefer cool soil. The slightly lower temperatures are what actually triggers the bulb to start growing. So, it is best to avoid placing you pots in long driveways, on open paths or against sunny walls unless you give them some protection from the heat.

What bulbs can be potted together?

four different container styles in shades of blue with flowers growing out of them

The easiest, most foolproof way is to keep it simple with one type of bulb in a pot. With some of your ‘smaller’ bulb types, you can interplant, using the Lasagne Method (see blog here).

Consider colour and height combinations if you’re mixing it up, such as planting a country inspired theme of Muscari along with daffs and Hyacinth (a lovely eye-catching combo of yellow and blue). While you’re waiting for your bulbs to make themselves known, plant up the top of the pot with annual colour seedlings, like violas, primula or pansies, to give a splash of colour to your space.

There’s nothing better than waiting for your hidden treasures to make themselves known. So what do you think? Will you give container planting a go this coming season?

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