How to Grow Bulbs in Pots


Bulb flowers bloom naturally from early to late spring, bringing bright color to the garden. Bring some of this beauty indoors by growing bulbs in pots. Daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs can be forced into bloom in late winter or spring. Bulbs survive forcing for only one year, but they can be replanted into the outdoor garden after blooming if desired. Spring bulbs are attractive in large outdoor containers, such as half-barrel-style planters.

Step 1

Fill a pot half full with a well-draining potting mix. Choose a pot that is twice as deep as the height of the bulb and has at least one drainage hole in the bottom.

Step 2

Set the bulb on top of the soil in the pot, flat-side down. In larger pots, plant multiple bulbs, sowing them approximately 2 inches apart. Fill in around the bulbs with potting mix until the top of the mix is ½ inch beneath the rim of the pot.

Step 3

Water the soil until the excess moisture begins to drain into the drip tray. Leave the water in the drip tray for two hours so the soil can finish absorbing the moisture, then drain the drip tray.

Step 4

Cover pots with a plastic bag if they require cold treatment to germinate, such as daffodils and tulips. Label the pot with the type of bulb and the date, then place it in the refrigerator for the required treatment period. Most bulbs that require cold treatment must be refrigerated for 13 to 15 weeks.

Step 5

Remove the bulbs from the fridge, if applicable. Place both refrigerated and nonrefrigerated varieties in a 60 degree F room that receives bright, indirect sunlight when you are ready to force them. Water the soil as needed to keep it moist but not soggy.

Step 6

Relocate the pots to a warmer room with direct sunlight once the bulbs begin growing shoots and leaves. Leave them in this location until they bloom, then move them back to the cooler location that has indirect sun.

Step 7

Fertilize the bulbs once every two weeks with a half-strength liquid houseplant fertilizer once the blooms fade if you wish to transplant the bulbs outdoors or if you are growing them in outdoor planters. Water and fertilize until the foliage yellows and dies back on its own.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not place bulbs in the refrigerator near ripening fruits or vegetables. The ethylene gas produced by the ripening process can cause the bulbs to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting mix
  • Bulbs
  • Plastic bag
  • Label and marker
  • Fertilizer


  • Alabama Cooperative Extension: Home Bulb Forcing
  • Texas A&M Extension: Bulbs in Containers
Keywords: growing potted bulbs, spring bulb forcing, container-grown bulbs, grow bulb pot, bulbs in pots, force bulbs

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.