Growing bulbs in containers

natalie4b(7b GA)June 20, 2009

If I grow bulbs in containers (spring and summer flowering ones), what kind of success will it be? Someone told me not even bother, because they rot and do not perform well (I wanted to plant daffs and tulips in a windowbox).


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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Daffs and tulips will need root space. I plant mine in containers 20 inches deep.

After the foliage yellows, withhold water or they will rot. Unlikely for tulips to perform well a 2nd year. Daffs are more forgiving.

If your containers are less deep, it would be a good idea to remove them, after foliage ripens, and plant in the garden. Start with fresh soil and bulbs for the next season.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 4:12PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Summer rot in pots is a big problem for spring bulbs, as iris said. I tend to plant tulips and hyacinths in pots because either they don't return at all (tulips) or don't give much of a show when they do (hyacinths). I figure, they're pretty cheap, so I just replace them each fall. Daffodils, I either lift from the pot in late spring and plant in the yard, or I dedicate an entire pot to daffodils alone and then move them into a shaded, fairly dry, out of the way area for the summer. They will ripen and go into summer dormancy. In the fall, I bring them back out into the sun and rain. They do well this way.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 5:12PM
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Maryl zone 7a

The only "bulbs" I have had some limited success perennializing in containers were Asiatic Lilies and Glads. I'd get about 1-3 years out of them and then they would disappear. Over winter I would stick their pots under the eaves of my house to insure that they didn't get much if any moisture during winter. I bought some Tete a Tete dafs once thinking that the smaller the bulb the smaller the roots. Even this small daf did not return the next year when planted in a window box.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:31PM
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I'm no expert and thought the same thing until last year when I decided to try some daffodil, crocus and tulips bulbs. I planted them in early November. I gave them a good layer of wood chip mulch and left them outside for the winter (we get sub zero temps here). I didn't water them much after the first couple weeks. Sure enough in the spring they all bloomed wonderfully. I'm hoping the crocuses and daffodils will come up again, but think I will dig the tulips. As others have said here and elsewhere, apparently they don't come back well a second year.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 11:23PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I grow lots of bulbs in containers and never have a problem with bulbs rotting during their dormancy. I believe such rotting is caused by using a mix that is not fast enough draining. The container forum has lots of information regarding the proper mix for container growing. Al

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 9:00AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I'm in agreement with Al (calistoga) here. I grow a variety of bulbs in containers and they live out all year - except for the seriously tender.

Small pots are the worst - particularly if they dry out excessively. [About the only bulbs I grow that are indifferent to total aridity are Lachenalia and Ornithogalum dubi(um) - the orange one that flowers separate from its leaves. (A matter of um-ing or a-ing, perhaps...;-( )]

Some of the small species-type tulips do well in containers eg violacaea. Perhaps miniature daffs such as Minnow and Hawera. Maybe bulbocodium 'Nylon' but they do better in the ground for me.

With good drainage and some frost shelter Sparaxis and Tritonia can be good in pots - and Chionodoxa. The little blue flowers are much easier to appreciate when they're closer to eye-level.

Unless it has to be tulips and daffs - the florist's Anemone also does well in pots with excellent drainage, and have a long flowering season. You might need some frost shelter. And they're good for picking, too.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 3:15AM
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e36yellowm3(7 Raleigh, NC)

Natalie, if you think of the tulips as annuals you'll be fine - plant in the fall and toss in the summer. I add tulips to some of my planters just to add some punch to the transition from pansies (our NC winter crop) to summer annuals. The pic below shows some 'rescue' tulips I bought and planted in late fall - though they pretty much overpowered everything else in the planter. Turned out nice for $2.00 though ;-) Alana From GardenWeb pics

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 2:38PM
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natalie4b(7b GA)

Beautiful basket, Alana!
I don't mind growing bulbs as annuals, and replant them in the ground as the season is over.
Appreciate everyone's advise!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 9:06AM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

I'm in a much colder zone than the rest of you, so winter wet/rot is a much greater problem here. For me wintering over bulbs in pots (and the pots themselves) isn't really worth the effort. You can get some survivors but the effect isn't much to talk about.

However, I do a lot of different containers with bulbs & corms in the summer. One of my favorite is gladiolus. The smaller, shorter varieties such as Atom (red with a fine white edge) work very well. Since they are not hardy in my zone and I would have to dig them up anyway, it's easier to dig them out (and find them all) using containers.

In mixed annual containers they make a nice 18-30 inch green foliage background for most of the summer and then provide a new bright splash of color in late August when other annuals are getting tired looking.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 10:31PM
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