How to Grow Tulips in Pots
Tulips are a convenient plant to choose for container gardening. Each bulb only produces a single stalk, which prevents the flowers from growing too big for their pots. If you have a deep enough pot, you can even layer different tulip varieties to create a visually stunning display. Simply start with the right variety or varieties of tulip and the right sort of pot. Give the bulbs adequate time to lie dormant and keep them in a sunny location during the warm weather months.
Preparing for Planting
1. Select the right type of tulip for your needs. Avoid giant variations, like Dutch hybrids, unless you have an abnormally large container. For a standard foot-high pot, go with a variety that grows 12 to 14 inches (30 to 35 cm) tall. For smaller pots, consider a variety that grows no taller than 10 inches (25 cm) high.
2. Obtain tulip bulbs at least 3 months before you intend to bloom them. Bulbs need to be kept cold and dormant for several months in order to grow during warmer spring months. Pot the bulbs shortly after you obtain them, if possible.
3. Choose a pot with adequate drainage holes. Tulips do not grow well when the bulbs are drenched, so your pot must have drainage holes in the bottom to drain excess water.
1. Fill the bottom of the pot with an inch or two of rocks, pebbles, or gravel. Doing so will help keep water away from the bulbs.
2. Layer soil over the gravel. You should fill the pot about halfway with soil, and the soil should be loosely packed. Use potting soil instead of dirt from your garden, since potting soil has less bacteria in it and contains more nutrients to help your flowers grow. A blend especially designed for tulips will work best.
3. Add a thin layer of sand over the soil. This step is optional, but it provides another means of drainage and may help prevent your bulbs from getting waterlogged.
4. Place the tulip bulbs in the pot. Keep the pointed end up. You do not need to worry too much about how close together the bulbs are since each bulb only produces one stalk, but for aesthetic purposes, you may wish to place the bulbs anywhere from 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm) apart from one another.
5. Cover the bulbs with additional soil. You should leave approximately one inch between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
6. Store your bulbs in a cool place for approximately 3 months. Once the dormant period has passed, place your potted bulbs in a warm, sunny spot. Tulips do best with full sun, so place them near a window or in a sunny location on your balcony or patio.
7. Keep your tulips sufficiently watered. The soil should be moist but never drenched. Fully saturated soil may cause your bulbs to rot.
8. Once the tulip blossoms start to shed petals, remove the flower heads. Also remove the leaves as they start to die off, but allow the rest of the plant to die back before removing. This allows the bulb to collect and store energy for next year's flower.
Creating Multi-Layer Arrangements
1. Select multiple variations of tulips. A combination of tulips that grow to varying heights works especially well.
2. Choose a pot that is at least 10 to 14 inches (25 to 35 cm) deep. Anything shallower than that will not provide adequate depth for multiple layers.
3. Layer pebbles on the bottom of the pot. The layer should be 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) deep.
4. Fill the pot with soil until the top of the soil is 8 or 9 inches (20 to 23 cm) below the top of the container. Use a potting soil designed for bulb plants for best results.
5. Place the bulbs that produce the tallest tulips on top of the soil. The pointed end should face upward. Leave at least a bulb-sized gap in between the bulbs.
6. Cover your first layer of bulbs with more soil. Cover most of the bulbs, but leave enough uncovered to see where each bulb is located. Pack the soil down firmly.
7. Place the next layer of bulbs in between each bulb from the lower layer. Each bulb of the top layer should rest between the necks of the bulbs from the lower layer.
8. Cover with soil. Leave an inch of space in between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
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