Planting & layering bulbs in containers for spring colour

planting_bulbs_container_curious_gardenerPlanting bulbs in containers is easy, and a great way to get spring colour.

This should be done in September / November for colour the following spring. There are also summer bulbs – I’ll add more later on that one!

I find that if your garden is small, it’s easiest to go to the garden center to get your bulbs, but do check around, many (gasp! shock!) Pound Stores and small stores sell ready-made collections that work really well together. I’ve never had an issue with quality as long as you check the bulbs aren’t to shrivelled or rotting / mouldy, even from the Pound store, and its a great way to try out a new project without too much cost.

There are literally thousands of bulbs / species of bulb out there, including Tulips, Daffs, crocus, snowdrops & muscari to name a few. Chose based on colour, height, and time of flowering – all pack say this on the label.

In Containers:

Bulbs can be planted in a nice container for a one-off centrepiece, or into plastic or pond containers so you can drop them into the garden where ever there is a gap for instant colour. It also means that when they die down you can put them to one side – they never look great once they’ve stopped flowering.planting_bulbs_container_muscari_tete-a-tete_curious_gardener

To start, get yourself a container, and make sure to put a layer of gravel or crockery in the base – bulbs need good drainage. The depth of the container should be reasonable, but it doesn’t have to be too deep. Bulbs look great in wider-than-high pots, especially in plain ceramic that doesn’t detract from the flowers.

Get your bulbs, or mix of bulbs and decide how you want them in your container – it’s usually best to cram in as many as you can for max impact – bulbs can look lonely on their own.

You can use one type, or several types, just make sure you put the taller at the back / in the middle of the container, smaller ones at the front, and the largest bulbs should always be planted the deepest in the pot.

Fill the container 1/3 full with a good, but well-drained soil. Place the first layer of bulbs on the soil ( the biggest bulbs / plants!), and fill in over top with soil, so just you can see the very tops peeking out. Always plant bulbs with the wider end ( with roots) down.

Take the next layer of bulbs, and space out around the bulbs underneath – they need space to grow through, but do try to cram them in as much as possible. I usually on do 2 layers of bulbs, but if your container is deep enough try for 3, but make sure there is at least 1/3 of the container worth of soil over the top layer of bulbs.

Many people put gravel over the top to hold the soil down, and make it look nice, but you don’t have to.

Water in, and put in a bright protected corner till next spring’s show!

You can also do this in other containers under winter bedding plants – Just do the first layer of soil, then the bulbs, then a bit of soil, then the plants, and backfill around as you would normally.

It’s a great 2 season display – I especially like doing this with red hardy cyclamen, Tete-a-Tete Daffs, and Blue Muscari ( see the pack in the pic)

Watch for slugs and snails – they like the juicy new tips, as do squirrels. You can put them in a cold frame to protect them, or cover the tops of the pots with chicken wire to stop the squirrels digging them out.

Into the ground:

Bulbs look good planted into the ground ( usually in clusters, or naturalized in a grassy setting). The best way to plant any bulb in the ground is to use the following rule of thumb – the bulb should always be planted at 3 times the depth of the bulb itself. (i.e. 1cm bulb = 3 cm into the ground). There are some exceptions to the rule though, so do check the pack. When planting, to get the best natural group is to stand and scatter them, and plant them where they fall.

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