Growing bulbs in pots is easy, fun and rewarding.
Pots of bulbs are perfect for small gardens, garden spaces that are already full, or to dress up your doorways and entrances.
The key to success is to choose suitable varieties, which are sturdy and not too tall, and plant them in an appropriately sized and shaped pot. Always use a potting mix that is well draining or designed especially for bulbs.
Bulbs perform best if they develop a strong root system before they attempt to grow leaves or start to develop their flower stems.
Encourage this by keeping the pots somewhere cool and shady until the new shoots are about 10cm tall. To have your bulb pots looking great year after year, it is necessary to replant your bulbs with new potting mix yearly, and to feed your bulbs regularly to replace the nutrients that have been expended in the flowering process.
Here are my favourite hardy, trouble-free bulbs which will continue to bloom for a few years if you feed and look after them.
These are all low growing and look great when placed on an outdoor table or bench when in bloom or clustered near a doorway.
Ever-popular spring bulbs renowned for their scent and vibrant display of colour. Their slender stems display a succession of trumpet shaped flowers with either a single or double form. Choose the giant hybrids which have flower stems of 30-60cm high and come in white, yellow, orange, red, blue, and purple.
Densely clustered stems of intense blue, white or soft pink flowers on 15cm stems.
Spring star flowers
Hardy bulb which is very long flowering, producing masses of sweetly scented, small starry flowers in shades of white, blue or dark purple-blue. The flowers only grow to 20cm high, so their scent is only really appreciated when they are placed on a table or wall, closer to nose height.
White autumn crocus
A great value autumn flowering bulb with 15cm high pure white flowers with golden stamens. It has almost evergreen foliage and a very long flowering period.
My all-time favourite bulb for pots, known as ‘Queen of the Bulbs’. I love them for their bold colourful flowers and divine perfume. Flowering in early spring, they have sturdy upright stems 25–30cm high, densely packed with brightly coloured flowers. Although perhaps not as hardy or as easy to grow as other varieties, they are definitely worth the effort.
The Miniature Daffodil (see article banner) produces a cluster of three or four golden yellow flowers on 15cm high stems. They often flower longer and survive the weather better than taller daffodils.
Other great bulbs for pots
Other great bulbs for pots are tulips, iris, alliums, baby gladiolus, ranunculus and unicorn root.
These spring flowering bulbs are available from nurseries and garden centres until late April. Have fun and check Sophie’s tips on garden jobs!
This article by Sophie Thomson was published in the Good Lives Magazine – Autumn 2022, read it here.