Planting Bulbs in Containers
Follow these simple steps and you'll have a fantastic display that brings Spring colour to your doorstep
Choose a container.
Anything that has drainage holes and is deep enough to accommodate a few inches of soil and the bulbs.
For a 2-inch-tall daffodil bulb, use a 6-inch-deep pot (3 inches of soil, 2 inches for the bulb, 1-inch space at top).
For a 1-inch-tall crocus bulb, use a 5-inch-deep pot (3 inches of soil,
1 inch for the bulb, 1-inch space at top).
Be sure the bulbs have at least 2 inches of soil beneath them.
Choose a potting mix.
If you are growing your bulbs in a container with drainage holes then you can use either a bulb fibre or a general multipurpose compost. If you are growing your bulbs in a container without drainage holes then you must use a bulb fibre as this contains charcoal which keeps the compost sweet and prevents it smelling.
Pot up the bulbs.
Add 3 inches of potting mix to the container, and firm it gently. Place a bulb on the soil, and twist it a quarter-turn to give it some grip in the soil. Add the rest of the bulbs, spacing them no more than 1/2-inch apart.
Add more potting mix around the bulbs. As a general rule of thumb bulbs should be planted at a depth that is 3 times their own height, there are a few exceptions so always check the instructions first.
Water well until some moisture leaks from the drainage holes. If channels or holes develop in the potting mix, fill them with moistened potting mix.
Time to chill.
In order to flower, spring-flowering bulbs require a chilling period of 8 to 14 weeks at temperatures between 35° and 40° F. To simulate the effect of winter, place container in a cool, dark place such as an unheated, frost-free basement, garage, or porch. A spare refrigerator is an ideal spot, but keep bulbs away from fruits or vegetables; they give off ethylene gas, which can cause the bud inside a bulb to abort.
Check pots regularly.
During the chilling phase, the bulbs are growing roots, so it's
important that the potting mix does not dry out. Check regularly for moisture by sticking your finger into the potting mix. Be careful not to overwater-excess moisture can lead to rot.
Watch for emerging top growth.
After six to eight weeks of chilling, green shoots should begin to emerge. If you live in a mild climate, this should coincide with the emergence of bulbs in outdoor beds. If you live in a cold-winter region, keep the containers in their cool place until you wish to encourage growth.
Place containers where they will receive light.
Temperatures over 75° F push bulbs to grow too quickly, resulting in floppy, leggy top growth. A location in light shade should provide the right balance of light and moderate temperatures. To ensure that your bulbs stand erect, you can support top growth with flower rings or stakes and twine.
Maintain the show.
As your bulbs grow larger and flower, check soil moisture daily, and
water as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Post-Flower care. If you want to save these bulbs, water regularly after the flowers fade. The leaves will eventually start to turn yellow and dry up. When the leaves have completely turned dry and brown, empty the pot onto your compost pile. Retrieve the bulbs and allow the soil that clings to them to dry. Remove dead foliage, brush off dry soil, and store the bulbs in a cool, dry place. In the Autumn, replant these bulbs. Please note Tulips should be planted in the garden bed and new Tulip bulbs purchased to pot up in containers.
Extend the flower period by planting separate containers with varieties that have various flowering dates (early, mid and late season).
As the bulbs start to flower, you can move them to a prominent place for best viewing. When they cease to bloom, move the bulb container to an out of the way place while it fades.
You can plant various bulbs in a single container but be sure to select varieties that are timed to flower over a long period. Plant bulbs in layers in deeper containers, with large bulbs deeper and small bulbs closer to the surface. Space bulbs so they aren't planted on top of one another.