Growing bulbs

Brighten up your patio next spring with pots packed with colour. The secret is to choose the largest pan you’ll find, then load it using a range of flower bulbs that bloom in series over along year. By planting in several sheets, you will get flower-power that is higher than by planting one level in your box. You can pick almost any spring lights but, to get a productive combination, verify flowering heights cautiously, so the series of plants develop than the last in layers, each higher. This lowers the possibility that daffodils’ large foliage may obscure your tulips.

Best bulb-planting tips

  • Choose pots at least 35-40cm wide and deep with drainage holes in the base.
  • Fill pots with peat-free potting mix or bulb fibre.
  • Plant the bulbs at their recommended depths, according to pack instructions.
  • Keep the pot in a cool, sheltered, position over winter, to promote good roots and sturdy shoot growth.
  • Move the pot into a bright position when the fast flowers appear.
  • Water whenever the mix dries out, adding a liquid fertiliser once a fortnight. After the flowers fade, let the leaves die down naturally.
  • Remove the spent foliage once it turns yellow. Lift the bulbs and keep somewhere cool and dry, ready to plant in your borders next autumn.

balloon flower

Four steps to planting layered bulb pot

Plants: Narcissus ‘Hawera’, Grape hyacinth, ‘Hyacinth Delft Blue’ and Tulip ‘Sumy Prince’.

  1. Choose a large pot and fill the base with potting mix so it is sitting about 25cm below the pot rim.
  2. Add a layer of daffodil bulbs, spaced about 10cm apart. Cover with a 3cm-deep layer of potting mix, then firm down between the bulbs.
  3. Replicate with bulbs, spread about 15cm apart, tulips, spread at hyacinth and about 22cm, spread at about 8cm apart. Fill the pot with potting mix to just below the rim and water well.
  4.  The different layers will flower in succession. Water the pot regularly in dry weather, adding a liquid fertiliser once a fortnight. Deadhead daffodils and tulips as their flowers fade, but don’t be tempted to remove the leaves, as these produce food to fuel next year’s flower production.

Use repetition for impact

Planting several identical pots with the same bulb is a simple way to produce a sophisticated look. The repetition is effective even when the pots and lamps are not large, which makes it well suited for those with limited room and gives additional impact for your spring display. Plant around four small bulbs in 9cm terracotta pots (they can be bought from garden centres and craft stores for less than $5 each). Combine simple terracotta with delicate blooms. Here we’ve used crocuses for their vivid colour, but you could use any small spring bulb. Place in a line on a windowsill or up your garden steps for a cheering display in early spring.

Bulb planting depth: 6-7cm.

Flowers: Crocus tommasinianus.

Also try: Muscari armeniacum or Scilla siberica.

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