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How to Plant Spring Bulbs in Pots

Plant bulbs in pots, and by the time warm weather arrives, you'll have a colorful display of big, splashy blooms to welcome the coming of spring. Spring bulbs such as tulips, narcissus, paperwhite, crocus, hyacinth and iris will all do well in pots. They'll need at least 15 weeks of cold weather in order to bloom, so plan accordingly. In most climates, October is prime bulb-planting time.

Purchase spring bulbs a week or less before you want to plant them. Choose bulbs that are firm and plump, and avoid those that are soft and shriveled.

Choose a container in which to plant spring bulbs. The container should be at least 8 to 10 inches across, but the larger the pot, the more bulbs you can plant. Any type of pot will be fine for planting spring bulbs, as long as it has good drainage holes in the bottom.

Put a large shard of broken pottery in the bottom of the pot to keep soil from washing out of the hole. Fill the container with good-quality commercial potting soil.

Plant the bulbs in the container with the pointed end up. Plant the bulbs to a depth that is about double the width of the bulb. The bulbs can touch one another, but don’t allow them to touch the side of the pot.

Water the container so that water runs through the drainage holes, then water it occasionally through the winter. The soil should be damp but not soaked.

Leave the pot outside for the winter if you live in a climate that doesn’t experience hard freezes. If you live in a climate where the temperature often drops below freezing, put the pot in a cool garage or storage shed. Wrap the container in bubble wrap to provide added insulation. Put the pots outside in the spring after hard frosts are over.


A surprisingly large number of bulbs can be planted in a large pot. For example, a 24-inch pot can hold 30 daffodil bulbs, 50 tulip bulbs or 100 small bulbs like crocus or paperwhites.

If you want to put different types of bulbs in the same pot, plant the larger bulbs first, then cover them with potting soil. Plant the smaller bulbs over the larger bulbs, adding enough soil to enable you to plant the smaller bulbs twice as deep as the bulb.

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