Planting Bulbs in Containers

by Suzanne DeJohn

planting bulbs in containers layers

Learn to layer fall-planted bulbs in a container for non-stop spring color, right outside your door!

Spring may seem a long time away, but if you want to enjoy tulips, crocus and other spring bloomers, now is the time to plant. In addition to planting out in the garden, consider planting bulbs in containers. In spring, you can use them to dress up your front entrance, deck or patio, providing early spring color just when you need it most.

In regions where temperatures don't drop much below freezing, planting bulbs in containers is easy. Simply pot them up, planting them at the same depth you'd plant them in the garden. In the confined space of a planter, you can squeeze in extra bulbs by layering them. Plant large bulbs like tulips and add more soil. Finally, plant small bulbs like crocus just an inch or two deep. Water thoroughly, and keep the soil moist (but not wet) through winter.

Planting Bulbs in Containers Like a Pro

Learn to layer fall-planted bulbs in a container for non-stop spring color, right outside your door!
  1. Dutch Master Trumpet Daffodil, Narcissus

    Dutch Master or King Alfred Improved has been America's favorite daffodil for decades. It's great for naturalizing and creates the perfect early burst of classic yellow color. (Narci...

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    Dutch Master Trumpet Daffodil Trumpet Daffodil Narcissus
    As low as $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 8
    Dutch Master or King Alfred Improved has been America's favorite daffodil for decades. It's great for naturalizing and creates the perfect early burst of classic yellow color. (Narcissus)
    Learn More
  2. White Daffodil Bulbs Thalia, Narcissus triandrus, Daffodil

    Perfect for a shrub border or mass plantings, this victorian variety Thalia is elegant, wild style flowers on stems producing multiple blooms. Sweetly fragrant. (Narcissus triandrus)...

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    Thalia Daffodil Thalia Daffodil Narcissus triandrus Thalia
    As low as $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 8
    Perfect for a shrub border or mass plantings, this victorian variety Thalia is elegant, wild style flowers on stems producing multiple blooms. Sweetly fragrant. (Narcissus triandrus)
    Learn More
  3. Citrus Daffodil Flower Bulb Collection

    Bright, energizing colors in hues of lemon-yellow and sunny orange characterize this happy collection of mid-spring Daffodils. Tall cultivars, ‘Dutch Master,’ ‘Tahiti,’ ‘Go...

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    Citrus Daffodil Flower Bulb Collection Citrus Daffodil Flower Bulb Collection Narcissus
    $45.32 Sale $33.99
    Per Collection of 40
    Bright, energizing colors in hues of lemon-yellow and sunny orange characterize this happy collection of mid-spring Daffodils. Tall cultivars, ‘Dutch Master,’ ‘Tahiti,’ ‘Golden Ducat,’ ’Scarlet O’Hara,’ and ‘The Poet's' Daffodil, have been expertly paired in our Citrus Daffodil Collection to give your garden beds and indoor vases the zest and excitement of fresh citrus fruit. Deer resistant. Plant in full sun to partial shade with at least six hours of sun. 40 bulbs total. (Narcissus)
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  4. Yellow Double Daffodil Bulbs Tahiti, Narcissus, Double Flowering Daffodils

    Elegant double flowers of the Daffodil Tahiti in the perfect mix of gold and orange open to an almost rose-like bloom. Reddish-orange interior markings give this classic yellow daffo...

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    Tahiti Double Daffodil Tahiti Double Daffodil Narcissus Tahiti
    As low as $9.99 Sale $7.49
    Per Bag of 8
    Elegant double flowers of the Daffodil Tahiti in the perfect mix of gold and orange open to an almost rose-like bloom. Reddish-orange interior markings give this classic yellow daffodil its tropical twist. Simply beautiful! (Narcissus)
    Learn More

Where temperatures drop below freezing for extended periods, you'll need to move the container into a protected spot. Why? Because in the garden, soil may freeze but it doesn't get as cold as the air temperature. During a cold spell, air temperature may dip into the teens or single digits (or colder), but the soil won't get nearly that cold. In a container, on the other hand, the mass of soil is small compared to the soil in the garden, so the cold air can penetrate more readily.

If the soil temperature drops too much the bulbs may be damaged.

Protecting Your Fall-Planted Bulbs in Containers

Here are a few ways to protect your bulb-filled containers:

  • Move the pots into a shed, unheated garage or another place where temperatures remain cool but don't dip too far below freezing.
  • Dig a hole in the garden large enough to accommodate the container. Place the pot in the hole, fill in around it with soil and add a blanket of loose mulch, like straw or leaves, over the top.
  • Use chicken wire or hardware cloth to build a cylinder around the pot, then fill it with straw or leaves to insulate against the chill.
blooming plantersblooming planters
Blooming planters herald the arrival of spring.

In early spring once nighttime temperatures stay above freezing, remove any protective mulch or unearth the container, then move it to where you can enjoy the flowers to come.

  1. Fall Blooming Crocus Bulbs Mix, Crocus, Fall Blooming Crocus Mix

    Plant this fall flowering crocus mix in late summer and you'll have a mix of purples and whites in only weeks. Excellent addition to your garden. (Crocus)...

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    Fall Flowering Crocus Mix Autumn Crocus Mix Crocus kotschyanus Fall Flowering Mix
    $9.32 Sale $6.99
    Per Bag of 15
    Plant this fall flowering crocus mix in late summer and you'll have a mix of purples and whites in only weeks. Excellent addition to your garden. (Crocus)
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  2. Purple Saffron Crocus Bulbs, Crocus sativus, Saffron Crocus

    Saffron is worth its weight in gold, so it pays to grow your own! These beautiful purple crocus flower in fall and offer you pure, prized edible saffron on each flower's stigmas. Ea...

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    Saffron Crocus Saffron Crocus Crocus sativus
    As low as $10.65 Sale $7.99
    Per Bag of 15
    Saffron is worth its weight in gold, so it pays to grow your own! These beautiful purple crocus flower in fall and offer you pure, prized edible saffron on each flower's stigmas. Easy to grow and exceptional in containers. (Crocus sativus)
    Learn More
  3. White Autumn Crocus Bulbs, Crocus kotschyanus, Autumn Crocus zonatus

    Glistening pure-white crocus flowers sparked with orange and yellow anthers catch everyone's attention against the deep-blue skies of autumn. As welcome in fall as the famous white c...

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    White Fall Flowering Crocus Autumn Crocus White Crocus kotschyanus Albus
    $9.99 Sale $7.49
    Per Bag of 6
    Glistening pure-white crocus flowers sparked with orange and yellow anthers catch everyone's attention against the deep-blue skies of autumn. As welcome in fall as the famous white crocus is in springtime. (Crocus kotschyanus)
    Learn More
  4. White Colchicum Bulbs Autumn White, Colchicum autumnale, Autumn Colchicum

    Pure white flowers of this Colchicum appear in fall just weeks after planting. Each bulb will produce 5 to 10 flowers. Deer Resistant. (Colchicum autumnale)...

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    Autumn White Colchicum Giant Autumn Crocus White Colchicum autumnale Album
    $9.99 Sale $7.49
    Per Bag of 1
    Pure white flowers of this Colchicum appear in fall just weeks after planting. Each bulb will produce 5 to 10 flowers. Deer Resistant. (Colchicum autumnale)
    Learn More
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