Container Bulbs Report

Last October I planted 140 Daffodils, 200 Tulips, and 250 Crocuses in pots. The 12 pots planted with Daffodils were given compost for insulation over winter. The Tulips and Crocuses were planted in another 12 containers and covered with wood mulch. I didn’t bother to cover the tops of the Daffodil containers because critters don’t like to eat Daffodils.

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Now that March is upon us, the moment of truth has begun. This past weekend I uncovered the Tulip/Crocus containers and moved them out to the front of the house.

Here’s one positive thing: the wood mulch deterred squirrels from digging into the pots in search of tasty bulbs (I initially did sprinkle the mulch with animal deterrent). In all 12 containers I saw a total of one squirrel hole. I don’t know, maybe the squirrels around here are lazy.

Also, there didn’t seem to be any critters nesting in the mulch over winter. Gardeners 2, Critters 0. Of course, it was quite a chore to spread the wood mulch over the borders in the back garden once they were no longer needed for insulating pots. I’m not sure doing that every spring is a realistic possibility.

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It’s a good thing I didn’t wait any longer to act, because by Saturday the Crocuses had broken dormancy and sent shoots up out of the planting medium. Instead of sun, though, they found themselves still in the dark under a blanket of mulch. As a result, they looked pale and confused when finally uncovered. However, I’m pretty sure that they will recover.

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A few containers even featured the tips of overeager Tulips (presumably the Single Early varieties I had planted).

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I moved the 12 pots of Tulips, some with and some without Crocuses, out to the front of the house. It was very satisfying to see them returned to their customary places. (Note the snow shovel kept at the ready, just in case.)

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As for the Daffodils, I left them where they were. Frankly, it is still too early to tell if there will be a repeat of the Great Daffodil Disaster of 2017. I did see about half a dozen Daffodil shoots, about the size of a thumbnail, poking up out of their containers, so I will remain hopeful.

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As for the Daffodils planted in the soil, they are just a couple inches tall at this point. So it could be that their colleagues in pots are slower to emerge.

On the bulbs in containers front, the mood is one of hope, worry, and anxiety. Stay tuned.

40 Comments on “Container Bulbs Report

  1. What do you do with your potted bulbs at the end of the season? Do you replant them in the fall or buy new ones each year?

  2. Exciting!! There’s something really wonderful about those buried pots… it’s a very striking visual! Also interesting to see the ‘coddled’ daffodils are slower to emerge. I suspect of daffs that they have that internal thermostat which needs a certain level of chill to tell them to get started, and if they don’t feel it, they don’t know what time it is? I have a Pieris that won’t flower unless it’s good and freezing for a few days. When the winters are mild, I get nothing at all from it. I wonder if that could be the difference between the ground daffodils and the potted ones?

    • I think the Daffodils may be more vulnerable to too much moisture. You would think the pots would thaw earlier than the ground, but maybe not.

  3. Good luck, good luck! You are so ambitious. I am in awe.

  4. Very satisfying to see your tulips in their rightful places! I’m a bit surprised the tulips are up before the Narcissus. Is that usual for you?

    • Yes, somewhat. Though I grow a lot of early Tulips. Last year the container Daffodils never came up at all – I hope that’s not the case this year.

  5. I think you can put the worry and anxiety back on the compost pile. It appears that every bulb is happy with the way it wintered over in the piles of luxury. I bet your neighbors are also looking forward to seeing those cheerful pots of color.

  6. I have a good feeling about your bulbs this year! All these signs point to a fabulous display of color. I always think of those first signs of bulbs as noses poking up through the soil.

  7. It all looks promising, looking forward to seeing them in all their glory. Glad to see the snow has gone.

  8. It is looking good Jason. Look forward to an update. I have some tulips in plastic pots near the house wall, and some shoots are just peaking out too. πŸ™‚

  9. Bulbs are not so much work here because not much bothers them; but few are satisfied with the chill they get in winter. Where the chill is adequate, they need all sorts of special treatment. It is one or the other.

  10. The sheer organisation of all those bulbs is really something. Makes me feel a bit lazy leaving a few bulbs in pots under the shady trees to wait for spring. Daffodils and tulips must be very resilient if I can grow what you are growing. Crocuses won’t grow for me, but I’ll try again this autumn.

  11. I will have to get out my pictures of Holland to enjoy tulips. I refuse to even give the rodents around here the temptation of eating them again. Good luck with yours.

  12. It’s a pleasure to see your tulips and crocuses near your porch Jason. I can image how nice they’ll be in bloom. Sure they will recover, no problem.
    Good luck with your bulbs!

  13. It is so good to see all the green shoots coming up in your container gardens! The pale ones green up quickly. Crocus do best in containers here, too. Mice, voles and gophers can be a problem, although I have discovered placing cat poop near the bulbs planted directly in the ground, and then covering with mulch discourages tunneling mice and vole activity in flower beds. I have a container full of purple crocus, which had a good dressing of horse manure and mulch. I have a good showing of purple ones and need a good sunny day to get a photo. Rain descended quickly on us this morning.

    • We don’t have any cats at the moment, though we will probably get a couple of kittens when we retire, so I’ll keep the tip about cat poop in mind.

  14. Hello Jason, the yellowed bulb shoots will be fine and will start greening up once they get some sun. Do you insulate with the mulch to protect the bulbs, the pots or both?

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