How to grow tulips in container pots


How to grow tulips in container pots

I love bulbs in pots for the spring; there's just nothing better for real impact and it's kind of like gardening in miniature. This pot next to me is a very good example. These are full of a non-peat base, multi-purpose potting compost with some garden soil put in it and some manure for added nutrition. What we've done is we've put tulips in here and this is the White Garden Collection which has ‘Exotic Emperor’ and ‘Purissima’ in it. And then, so we've got a succession, we have planted some bulbs later because that collection flowers early.  Just coming up now is the Ivory and Primrose Tulip Collection and as the White Garden tulips go over we can deadhead them and then the Ivory and Primrose can come up through.

The thing that makes this pot is without a doubt is the cerinthe and we planted those over the top. So, the first layer of tulips is planted at six inches then we've got another layer at four inches, the second collection, and then we've got cerinthe over the top. That's been growing all the way through the winter out here and they survived the winter fine and then the tulips have come up through it. This is in fact a concrete pot that I've just painted with a colour that I quite like, a sort of soft green, and it’s a really, really cheap as chips pot that I got at a local garden centre.

Because we're on a farm, we use quite a lot of zinc pots too and this has got exactly the same system. We've got three lovely tulips here and underneath it we've got the really highly scented stock called Matthiola incana (perennial form). It's not flowering yet but as the tulips go over we can deadhead them. It's nice having the foliage below them and then up comes the stock to flower. They're planted at six inches, the second layer at four inches and then the matthiola over the top.

For those of you with smaller gardens and who want smaller pots, or perhaps you’ve got an urban garden and you want a couple of pots on your doorstep, this kind of thing is ideal. We've actually used the depth of the pot more than the girth. I've put five tulips at about eight inches deep, five tulips three inches above, five tulips two or three inches above that, and you’re then still just about below the soil surface. We’ve got ‘Burgundy’, ‘Antraciet’ and here we've got ‘Tambour Maitre’ just coming through.

On the whole, you want to put the earliest (and often the smallest) deepest, so we put ‘Antraciet’ deepest then ‘Burgundy’ next and then on the top, which is the latest, the ‘Tambour Maitre’. You actually can get fifteen bulbs easily in a pot that size. Once you've planted them, just water them in well - whenever you plant anything, water it in well. Then, because you're not going to be planting till October or November, you're not going to need to water them again because it's bound to rain if the pot is sitting outside. They’ll just grow up really well and they'll start to sprout in sort of March time. By that time, if it doesn't rain (we've had a very dry spring this spring) we water twice a week but otherwise we just let them get on with it.

Happy gardening,


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