Bring Out Your Container Tulips

Today I dug up the container tulips and set them out on the path to the front door. This is a day I look forward to at the beginning of every spring.

Container tulips buried in the garden. I took all these pictures myself with my phone, so they are not up to Judy’s usual standard.

Last fall I planted 13 containers with tulips. To read about it, click here. Of these, I buried ten in the tomato/herb bed. Another three I left in the garage. The ones in the garage I had forgotten about and I’m afraid I had let at least one of them get too dry over the winter.  You don’t need too much moisture, but you don’t want the planting mix to be bone dry for a long period.

However, so far it seems both the buried and garage tulips made it through the winter. There are a few containers with no tulips emerging right now, but that’s probably because they are planted with later varieties.


We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and the soil was almost too wet to work – but not quite. On the other hand, it was wet enough to make some of the containers pretty damn heavy.


The containers left behind sizable holes. However, after digging out the containers I edge the bed, throwing the resulting soil into the holes. A little pushing back and forth with a hoe, and the tomato/herb bed looks to be in reasonable shape.


It’s exciting to see the tulip tips poking up out of the planting mix.


The tulips that are making their appearance now are probably the early varieties ‘Princess Irene’, ‘Couleur Cardinal’, and ‘Early Harvest’ – a mix of purple, red, and orange. I don’t go in for subtlety when it comes to tulips.


And here they are lined up along the walk to the house. I also put one on the tree stump in the Lamppost Bed. Can’t wait to see them all in bloom!



64 Comments on “Bring Out Your Container Tulips

  1. Thanks to you, I tried some this winter and they are blooming. You should see them soon in a future post.

  2. This may be the only reliable way to grow tulips in northern Illinois. Thanks for the tip. Mimi

  3. I didn’t kill my tulips this year! I created a drainage system that kept them from rotting. Yay!! Mine are the freebies from the Fling but I think they’re all bright colors. 🙂

  4. Such a good idea, I have to grow mine in pots as it is too wet over the winter, but I have never thought of burying them!

  5. I have 2 containers with tulips, and they look pretty good. They have been in my greenhouse over winter. It is the first time I try to grow them in containers, so I´m so exited to see them in bloom. I´ve watered them for about a month, and they have grown a lot.

  6. Interesting post Jason, what a great way to bring them on and save your pots and bulbs from freezing. Its an exciting time of year.

  7. I think I remember you saying that the bulbs freeze if in the ground if this is true why don’t they freeze in the pots. Maybe I have it wrong in that you want them in pots, they always look fabulous each year lining your path. Above ground the pots would possibly break and the soil freeze hard. I’ll look forward to seeing them in flower.

    • They can freeze in the pots, which is why I either have to bury the pots or put them in the garage. All my pots are plastic or fiberglass. The main reason I grow tulips in pots is I can move the pots around as I please, also I find the larger tulips (as opposed to the species) a little difficult to work with in beds and borders.

  8. Exciting to see the leaves poking out. Some of my tulips have flower buds already – too early! I hope they’ll be ok if we have a prolonged cold snap. Look forward to seeing your pots full of beautiful blooms.

    • There’s a variety called ‘Early Harvest’ that is very early indeed – blooms in March even in Chicago. Good luck with your tulips – I hope the weather doesn’t play any dirty tricks on them.

  9. Jason–I think we look forward to this now as much as you do. I planted 4 containers this year, plus about 10 more which where given as holiday gifts. The pair of pots with early tulips is blooming and the others are coming on fast.

  10. Thanks for the detailed description and visuals of the digging up of the pots of tulips. You gave us a thorough workshop in the planting and burying of the tulips last fall, I’m glad to see the whole process. Now we’ll wait with anticipation for the flowers themselves!

  11. Tulips are coming up all over our inherited perennial garden but we are supposed to have snow tonight. Yikes.

  12. How exciting to see tulip foliage popping up. I have some up in the garden. I don’t have too many tho. Every year I think I should plant more yet…they don’t get planted. Maybe this fall.

  13. You have quite a collection. It is going to be very colorful in a few weeks! You will have to show us the result when they are in bloom.

  14. We don’t need to bury the pots here in N.W. England Jason, but useful to know. I have not bothered with them this year as I have too much trouble with squirrels.

  15. We planted tulips for the first time last autumn – right into our heavy clay soil. I was worried that the bulbs would rot with winter rain, but many of them seem to have survived just fine.

    (Well, they survived the weather and the soil. They didn’t necessarily survive the hungry deer who showed up after they broke dormancy…)

  16. Is it just me? But the title of your post harken to “Bring out your dead!” like during the Black Death? In this case, more like bring out the living…

  17. One of the best parts about spring is seeing the new green poking up from the soil. I remember you doing this last year and I remember the spectacular colour that follows. Looking forward to that. Do you use plastic pots? Because I am thinking that burying and digging up clay pots might result in a lot of breakage.

  18. When they flower, all those pots lined up in front of your house are going to look fabulous! I had just two pots of mixed bulbs in my garage over winter, but it was so mild they started shooting in January! I risked taking them outdoors then to slow them down and it has worked. Now we need some warmer weather to really get them going.

  19. This is the first year I’ve tried burying a container of tulips after reading your post last fall, and I am so happy to say the tulips are looking good and should be blooming soon. It’s the first success I’ve had with growing tulips in containers, so thank you!! I was worried the container would be too heavy for me to dig out, but fortunately, the soil was dry enough that it wasn’t bad at all. I must remember next year not to use my biggest pots, however:) Looking forward to seeing all the glorious blooms along your sidewalk!

  20. A wonderful way to start spring! Looking forward to seeing pictures of them in bloom.

  21. I remember the glorious display from last year. My two pots flank the front stairs and are just beginning to show some color (orange). Do you transplant the bulbs to the garden proper after blooming?

    • So I’m in flux about the answer to that question. For the first couple of years I just threw all the old bulbs on the compost, treating all the tulips like annuals. Last fall I transplanted a bunch of them to the parkway, where it is not too critical if they succeed or fail. We’ll see how they come up this spring.

  22. I remember your pots of bulbs last year, they were a glory. I am looking forward to seeing this year’ s in bloom.

  23. I really like this idea and my try it next year — although not on such an ambitious scale. It will be great to see all your tulips in bloom.

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