Planting Bulbs in Containers

What you’ll need

  • Container
  • Bulbs

step 1: Prepare the Pot

Starting in the fall, select a pot at least 8 inches across. If the pot will be sitting on a deck or patio, select one at least 16 inches across. Terra cotta pots will crack if they freeze, so use plastic pots if they will be exposed to freezing temperatures.

Large bulbs like tulips and daffodils should be about 8 inches deep, and smaller bulbs like grape hyacinth about 5 inches deep. Put a few inches of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix in the bottom of the pot to receive the first layer of bulbs.

step 2: Plant the Bulbs

Place a layer of larger bulbs first. Plant them close together—even touching—for a nice effect. Place tulips with the flat side toward the outside of the container so the first leaf will curl over the side. Tulips and daffodils (and most other bulbs) are planted pointed side up. If you aren’t sure, look for hairy root stubs and place them down.

Add 3 inches of potting mix and plant a layer of smaller bulbs. Add another two inches and plant dwarf iris if you are including them, then cover with a final two inches of soil. This should bring the soil to near the edge of the container.

Water the pot well and set it outside to chill.

step 3: Chill the Bulbs

Spring-flowering bulbs need a period of at least 6 weeks at temperatures around 45 degrees to trigger blooming. Place the pots where they will receive this temperature. Depending on your climate, this might be outside in the yard, or in an unheated garage or basement. If they are not exposed to rain or snow, check them every couple of weeks and water lightly if the soil is dry.

step 4: Enjoy Your Flowers

Set the pots outside as soon as shoots appear. Place them where they will get full sun and let them grow. In a few weeks you will be rewarded with beautiful blooms.