How to Grow Bulbs in Containers
Add pockets of color and cheer with containers planted with spring-blooming bulbs. It's easy—we'll show you how.
Growing bulbs in containers is a fantastic solution for gardeners with limited spaces, or for those who want to decorate their decks, patios, or front entryways with the beautiful colors and lovely fragrances of spring-blooming bulbs. You can try forcing bulbs earlier in the spring, so when you put out your containers, you will have full-sized plants rather than having to wait for nursery plants to fill in. Although it is easy to do, here are a few things you need to know about planting spring bulbs in outdoor containers.
Growing bulbs in containers is easy. You can grow virtually any bulb in containers, and you can mix different types of bulbs together, too. In fact, it's a lot like growing bulbs in the ground. Start with a container with drainage holes so that excess water can escape, and plant your bulbs in the fall. Most spring-blooming bulbs prefer well-drained soil and will rot and die if their feet are too wet for too long.
If you want to leave your bulbs outdoors all winter, select a large container that will hold enough soil to insulate the bulbs. In the coldest-winter regions, that means a container at least 24 inches in diameter.
Planting Spring Bulbs
Fill your container with a high-quality potting mix (don't use garden soil) and plant your bulbs as deeply as you would in the ground; for instance, 6 or 7 inches deep for tulips and daffodils, and 4 or 5 inches deep for little bulbs such as crocus and Siberian squill. Water your bulbs well after planting.
If you grow bulbs in a container that's too small to spend the winter outdoors or one that is made from a material such as terra-cotta that needs protection, keep the planted bulbs someplace cold, such as a garage or shed. Don't bring your bulbs indoors; most basements will be too warm for them to develop properly.