The Container Daffodils Live!

In the autumn before last I planted over 100 Daffodil bulbs in pots and not a single one survived the winter. I refer to this incident as the Great Daffodil Disaster of 2017.

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Last fall I planted another 140 Daffodil bulbs in a dozen pots. I’ve been watching those pots anxiously to see if there would be a repeat of the previous year’s catastrophe. This cold March has kept me waiting, as everything has been slow to emerge.

However, I have now seen enough in the way of little green Daffodil thumbs sticking up out of the container mix to allow me to declare success. Perplexing that the container bulbs are slower to break dormancy than the ones in the ground, but nevertheless.

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So what’s different about this year that resulted in a more successful outcome? Well, I made more drainage holes in the containers. And I wonder if it is better not to pile leaves (especially heavy maple leaves) on top of containers over the winter. Perhaps they hold too much moisture in the potting mix?

This past winter I used composted manure to insulate the Daffodil containers, but I didn’t put any on top. The Tulip containers were covered with shredded wood mulch, to discourage critters from digging in for a meal of Tulip bulbs. (Critters won’t eat Daffs.)

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This past weekend I positioned the Daffodil containers around the back garden in their usual places for the growing season (I had done the same with the Tulip containers two weeks earlier.) Then I set about distributing the leftover compost and wood chips.

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I spread the compost over nearby beds and borders, giving generous helpings to the roses, the Crabapple tree, and the Clematis. I also sprinkled a bunch over the lawn. (The beds and borders still need a more careful job of edging.) It was a substantial job of work, and makes me wonder about using this approach in the future (as opposed to burying the pots or keeping them in the garage.

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Another completed task this weekend was trimming the Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis). They are just now starting to unfurl. I hope to have blooms in a week or two. The weather, though, remains stubbornly cold, so we’ll see.

36 Comments on “The Container Daffodils Live!

  1. I agree drainage may have been a problem, and for containers, leaves may not be a good idea. I had a similar problem with some barrel planters, and pulled off the leaves mid winter. It was pretty wet under there. Bark mulch might work better.

  2. Yay!!! Welcome, spring. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief.

  3. I never tried to plant bulbs in a pot. I am too afraid that this experiment would fail.
    Good luck for all your pot planted bulbs!

    • Thanks. I think the trick is to keep them from freezing and thawing too much – let them freeze and then stay frozen. Also, not too much moisture.

  4. How exciting to see those svelte fingers beginning to jump for joy as I am sure you were when you uncovered the pots. If you spread that much compost and mulch every year it might be worth the effort. You just have to see how you feel after you rest from this project. I hope your area warms up soon. We too are running behind in temperature. I am ready for some truly warm weather. I think the garden feels the same way.

  5. Yay! They are going to look just lovely in bloom in a couple of weeks!

  6. Try straw for a covering. A good six inch layer would do the trick and not pack down like leaves. You can also use evergreen branches if you have access to any trimmings. The idea is to keep the pots frozen all winter once they freeze, so you’re really just trying to keep the sun off them until shoots appear.

  7. Wonderful to see the bulbs coming up in the pots, and I hope the cold weather eases off enough to do some real gardening soon!

  8. Good to hear you shall get to enjoy your daffadowndillies! It’s still really cold here too, spring certainly hasn’t sprung!xxx

  9. Pingback: Looking for some colour…. | Flowery Prose

  10. Hurrah! I’m glad to hear your potted bulbs survived. That’s a great idea to use mounds of compost to protect them–I might have to borrow that idea next year. I think I lost a few potted plants in an experiment–even though they were near the house. We’ll see.

  11. Not one survived?! How sad. I can not imagine such cold. The problem for most other bulbs here is that it does not get cold enough.

  12. I’m glad that your tulips made it through the winter. That is a lot of work, though, especially as it’s an annual job – I doubt that I would ever be up for it myself but I’m sure it will be a lovely display.

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