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How to keep your summer bulbs in pots flowering for longer

When it comes to planting in containers, bulbs are some of the easiest to grow and the most beautiful to look at.

What’s more, if potted correctly, they’ll bloom again and again, giving you years of enjoyment.

Here are some tips for getting the biggest, best, and longest-flowering blooms from your potted bulbs.

Timing is everything

The time of year that your bulbs are due to flower indicates when you need to plant them. Spring-flowering plants like daffodils should be planted in September, as well as long-flowering ones like lilies and alliums (which can be planted through September and October).

Summer-flowering bulbs like to be planted in March, while autumn-flowering bulbs will do best if potted in August.

Choose your spot

Bulbs like daffodils, dahlias and tulips come from warm and sunny climates, so they’ll prefer a sun-soaked spot with at least 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Some bulbs, like caladiums, come from woodland habitats and prefer cooler spots with partial shade, though they still need a good 4-6 hours of sunshine each day.

Mixing your soil

For a long-lasting potted bulb, a good rule of thumb is to mix three-quarters of good quality, soilless compost with one quarter of grit or fine gravel. Shade-loving bulbs prefer slightly damper soil than the sun-loving ones, so give them an extra handful or two of grit.

Good drainage is essential to stop potted bulbs from rotting, so bigger pots will last longer if stood on pot feet (or a couple of bricks).

Drainage can also be helped along by filling the bottom of the pot with large rocks and fragments of broken pots, before adding the compost on top.

Potting

Choose a pot roughly half the size of the fully-grown plant, and use the bulb itself to measure where to place them. 

  • Multiple bulbs in one pot should have a space the size of their own width between them
  • Pot bulbs at a depth three times their own height
  • Start bulbs off in a greenhouse or sunny window while they sprout to keep the soil warm

Watering and feeding during flowering season

Bulbs need to be watered regularly during flowering season, either by natural rainfall or watering from a can or hose. They also like to be fed once every two or three weeks using a high-potassium fertiliser. Tomato feed does a great job.

Watering and feeding for the rest of the year

Though they won’t be flowering, dormant bulbs still need to be nurtured through the months they aren’t in bloom. Keep them watered enough to prevent the pot from drying out and you’ll be in for another year of perfect, long-lasting flowers.

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