Planting bulbs in pots for spring flower displays is a real treat for any city gardener looking to spruce up their small space garden. They are great options for apartment balconies, townhouses, decks in small back yards and in some situations they can even bloom indoors.
But how can we ensure we have a display of all the spring flowers (because let's face it, we want all of the flowers!), and also avoid cluttering our tiny gardens with bare soil pots, disheveled looking bulb foliage, and saving money on buying lots of pretty pots?
Well this year I'm trying a new method of achieving a succession of spring flowers that in theory, should provide me with a display from late winter through to late spring. Here's what I'm going to do;
My tiny garden is a townhouse balcony that's already full with pots and hanging railing baskets, but I have some space to fit a few more railing pots.
I've selected 4x railing pots to be my empty display pots. These will house my flower displays.
I've selected 16x cheap plastic pots to plant the bulbs in, which will be the pots that I rotate through to give a continuous display.
I've selected 4 sets of bulbs that will emerge and provide displays at different times - Late Winter, Early Spring, Mid Spring and Late Spring. I've selected two different varieties of bulbs for each period (because I'm greedy and want more flowers!) but you could select a single variety for each period for a simpler look. Here's my selection;
Late Winter - Anemone & Iris Reticulata
Early Spring - Freesia and Muscari
Mid Spring - Tulips
Mid-Late Spring - Daffodil Delnashaugh & Anemone Blanda
I planted each group of bulbs in 4x plastic pots, ensuring the depth of the bulb was as to the guidelines of the pack (about twice the depth as the bulbs size), added some fertiliser into the potting mix and labelled each pot so that I could easily identify what pot contained which bulbs. I watered them in well, and then mulch the tops.
Because bulbs in pots can be placed in shady spot until the foliage emerges, I'm storing my pots in my garage near a somewhat bright window while they are still dormant. This has the benefit of not cluttering my balcony unnecessarily during the autumn and winter months. You could try the same but if you don’t have the garage space, you could try leaving them in a spare room, the laundry or even a cupboard.
So here's the plan. My late winter pots should start emerging in late July, early August. It's at this point that the bulbs need access to sunlight and so it's that will be the time that I'll move these pots into their display pot and hang them on my balcony to show off their fabulous flowers. Once these flowers start to die off, my next set of pots should also be just emerging and I can simply swap the plastic pots over. This can be repeated for each succession of pots to achieve a continuous display of flowers.
The biggest risk here is the timing and no matter how perfect we plan for it, sometimes the timings just won't work out. If this is the case and I find that one set of pots hasn't quite yet finished its display when the next set is already emerging, then I will simply cut back any remaining flowers and pop them inside in a vase or bring the pots inside and place in another display pot to keep them lasting even longer.
And now we sit back and wait for winter to set in, knowing that the world will be a happier place once those first spring bulbs poke their way out into the world and embrace us with their delightful floral display. We'll keep you posted on the success of our technique once Spring is in full swing.