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Time to Bury Bulbs in Pots
by Carla Allen
by Carla Allen

Greetings from Nova Scotia!

Carla Allen has been gardening for the past 25 years, co-owned a nursery in southwestern Nova Scotia for 16 years.

Carla has an extensive image library and nurtures a network of horticulture in the region. She was the first president of the Yarmouth Garden Club.

October 30, 2006

cabulbimpc.jpg (44620 bytes)Has Jack Frost ravaged your last surviving pots of annuals? Bet they're beginning to look quite worn out from blooming all summer.
It's time to add those plants to the compost pile and fill those pots for next year's season. So soon? Think bulbs.

If your pots are plastic or resin, you can use some of the larger containers (6" and up) to create beautiful bulb combinations to enjoy next May or June. Planting bulbs in containers is a different twist on burying them in the ground, but it does have it's advantages. The  age-old problem of what to do with bulb foliage after blooming has finished, is solved in a snap if the bulbs are planted in pots. Just move the pots to an unobtrusive location until the leaves turn yellow, then you can remove and dry the bulbs and store them until the following autumn.

This time of year, some stores offer great deals on remaining bulbs. You can plant your pots right up until the ground freezes, or even later if you have an unheated garage or greenhouse. Plant pots with one type of bulb or layer several different kinds to extend the blooming season. One rule of thumb to remember is to plant lots of bulbs in each pot. You want a nice, full effect. Eg: for a 10" pot, you would plant at least 12-14 tulips in a layer. Larger, taller growing flowers like tulips are planted deeper, whereas shorter growing ones like crocus would be planted closer to the top. A general rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth of two to three times their diameter. Here's a handy tip for larger bulbs: If you plant the flat side of each bulb facing the outside of the pot, the first leaf will grow on that side and hang gracefully over the pot's rim.

To plant a multi-layered 10" pot, place 2" of potting soil in the bottom. Sprinkle bone meal or bulb fertilizer on top of the potting soil, then position 12 tulip bulbs an equal distance apart. Add more potting soil, enough to almost cover the tulip bulbs. Next, place 10 hyacinth bulbs in a staggered fashion above the tulips. Put more potting soil in the pot to cover this layer. For the final layer, plant about two dozen crocus. Yellow crocus bloom before purple ones, so you may want to go with one crocus colour knowing this fact. Finish off the project by adding enough soil to cover the crocus and water.

Now to overwinter them. Pots can be placed in an unheated garage or greenhouse, or you can dig a trench deep enough to set the pots in and fill it with leaves. Nestle each pot into the leaves and add more to fill in the sides and top. Cover this all over with a light layer of evergreen boughs. The pots will be fine here until the following spring when you can remove them, wash off the sides and decide where you'd most like most to enjoy the beauty of your containerized bulbs.

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