How to Plant Daffodil, Tulip, and Other Bulbs in Pots

Easy Tips for When to Plant Daffodils and Other Spring Bulbs in Pots

How to Plant Daffodil, Tulip, and Other Bulbs in Pots

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If you live in a condo, apartment or just don’t have space to plant spring-flowering bulbs in the ground, you can still enjoy continual color and fragrance from spring bulbs by learning how to plant daffodil, tulip, and other bulbs in pots.

Maybe you’re wondering when to plant daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs. Fall is the perfect time! And it really is easy to learn how to plant daffodil, tulip, and other bulbs in pots. I like to layer them at different depths, depending on the flowering time and size of the bulbs. They will develop healthy root systems over winter with very little attention from you. You’ll be rewarded with layers of color and fragrance in the spring.

Don’t forget to get the kids involved, too. Learning how to plant daffodil, tulip, and other bulbs in pots gives them a creative outlet with nature, and they will eagerly help tend the pots during the winter. You’ll love seeing the excitement on their faces as they see the first green sprouts that poke through the soil in early spring. Watch in wonder as each layer puts forth a riot of color! Let them pick a bouquet of “their” flowers from the pots for someone special. The memories of what you learn and share together last long after the petals fall from the stems.

How to Plant Daffodil, Tulip, and Other Bulbs in Pots


Here’s a list of what you’ll need to get started.

  • Choose an assortment of bulbs.
  • One large container that’s at least 10-12″ deep with good drainage in the bottom.
  • Soil-less potting mix.
  • Bulb food.
  • Spade or trowel
  • Garden gloves
  • Water


Now it’s time to plant the bulbs! How you plant them is crucial to success.

Plant all bulbs pointed side up, flat side down.

The daffodils and tulips go deepest, so fill your container with soil-less potting mix so that the first layer of bulbs, which will be daffodils, are about 10″  below the top of the pot. Plant 1″ apart, starting at the inside edge, and cover with a couple inches of soil. They will be among the first bulbs in the pot to flower.

Daffodils in a pot.

Plant tulips next, and make sure the bulbs are not planted directly on top of the daffodils. Plant 1″ apart and cover with about an inch of soil. Tulips bloom in mid-spring.

Regular hyacinths make a pretty contrast between the tulips and daffodils. Plant them 1″ apart, on top of the tulips and cover with about a couple inches of soil. They bloom in mid spring.

Sprinkle a light layer of bulb food on top and cover with another couple inches of soil.

Plant a layer of the minor/little bulbs. I enjoy snow crocus, which comes in both pastel and bright colors and blooms in early spring.

Deep blue grape hyacinth is a favorite, too, and blooms in mid-spring.

Plant both of these 1/2″ apart and cover with 1″ soil. This should put you about 4″ below the top of the pot. Tamp down soil.

Water very well. Your spring garden in a pot is now ready to snuggle in for the winter.

Wintering Over

These bulbs need to be cold for the winter, so leave the pot outside until the temperatures are consistently cold, then store in an unheated garage or shed for the winter.

You can also leave the pot outside the whole time and give it protection by surrounding it with a sheath of leaves and mulch.  Some folks use an extra large pot for insulation and just mulch on top, letting the snow make an extra cap.

If you think critters may dig into the pot, cover the top with chicken wire or something similar.

Don’t over water and make the soil soggy, but do keep it moist throughout the winter.

Bloom Time!

In early March, move your spring garden outdoors if it’s been indoors. Water as needed. Each layer of bulbs will sprout and flower at slightly different times or overlap a bit, giving you color, fragrance and beauty all spring long.


Post Bloom Care and Fun Extras

What I like to do after the foliage dies is just dump the pot out, remove the bulbs, brush off any excess dirt and plant them in the ground. You can also layer them in boxes with newspaper in between in a cool, dry place. Now you’re all set for next autumn!

While you’re getting your pots ready for bulbs why not do what I do and take it a step further by gathering a few extra pots with soil-less mix for growing fresh greens and some flowers from your edible flowers list. I crave arugula and fresh greens during the short winter days. I satisfy that craving by growing arugula from seed indoors and growing lettuce in containers, as well. Arugula produces a harvest of tender, pungent greens. A packet of mixed spring lettuces supplies us with healthy salads. Both need a sunny spot with good air circulation to thrive. If that’s not possible, grow lights fit the bill.

Lettuce growing in a container.

What bulbs do you plant in the fall for spring blooms? Do you plant in the ground or in pots? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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