How to Plant Bulbs in Containers


The wonderful thing about planting bulbs in containers is that you can find a space on your porch, balcony, patio or deck for them. A pot with bright daffodils, tulips, crocuses or lilies blooming during the spring changes the drab scenery of the recent gray winter. Most bulbs need to be planted in the fall. With a few tips, you will see the blooming delight of your efforts in the spring.

Step 1

Choose containers that are deep enough for the particular bulb you are planting. Tulip bulbs, for example, need to be four to eight inches deep. You will also need soil beneath the bulbs. A 12-inch-deep container for tulip bulbs is perfect. Terra-cotta or ceramic pots with drainage holes are best, as plastic holds in too much heat and moisture for bulbs.

Step 2

Clean your pots thoroughly, if they are reused containers. Previous plants may leave fungus or diseases behind. Use a bleach solution of one teaspoon of bleach to five gallons of water.

Step 3

Spread stones or broken pottery over the drainage hole at the bottom of your containers.

Step 4

Fill the containers with a commercial potting soil (it is free of disease and weed seeds) to the point where you will be placing the bulbs, according to the type of bulb. A general rule is that the bulb should be planted to a depth of three times its height. Remember, the pointed side of the bulb should be facing upward.

Step 5

Plant the bulbs shoulder-to-shoulder to create a full look for your container blooms. This is different than when planted in the ground, and the bulbs are separated.

Step 6

Cover the bulbs with potting soil and water to moisten the entire pot of soil.

Step 7

Place your bulb-filled containers in a shed or garage over winter. Most bulbs need a cold but not freezing period (eight weeks) in order to bloom in the spring. Although you could plant them in early winter, in many locations the soil is too frozen to dig. This makes fall the ideal time for bulb planting. Bring the containers out in early spring and place them in sunny locations. Water the pot so that the soil is entirely wet.

Things You'll Need

  • Bulbs
  • Terra-cotta or ceramic containers
  • Stones
  • Commercial potting soil


  • Flower Bulbs
  • The Gardener's Rake
Keywords: planting bulbs, container bulbs, flower bulbs

About this Author

Karen Ellis has been a full-time writer since 2006. She is an expert crafter, with more than 30 years of experience in knitting, chrocheting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and other arts. She is an expert gardener, with lifelong experience. Ellis has taken many classes in these subjects and taught classes, as well.