This week let’s talk about keeping bulbs in containers. Whether you go for a single perfect specimen in a delicate, beautiful pot placed at a focal point in your home, or a living bouquet of flowers in a huge urn to grace an outdoor space, either way you can create a show stopper.
Before I get onto the how’s and why’s of design, planting and maintenance, I should touch briefly on one drawback: container gardening does require some commitment. By their very nature, containers offer a very restricted environment where plants are totally reliant on us for regular water, nourishment and weeding. You will be disappointed if you allow your bulbs to dry out as they will probably fail to flower. Worse still, few things can be as depressing as a neglected container full of weeds or dead sticks. However, the opposite is also true: few features are as stunningly beautiful as a graceful planter overflowing with healthy and flourishing bulbs.
First a few tips on choice of container: my best advice is to go for the best you can afford. Be absolutely ruthless and chuck out any old, chipped, cracking no-longer-fresh pots you might have lying about. Toss all the scraggly leggy woody old plants on the compost heap and simplify. A jumble of messy pots and containers can be the cause of complete design indigestion – probably because we collect too many different materials with too many types of plant fillings. Less is more.
Consider overall design. Master designer, John Brooks, has this to say: “Try to stick with one material and relate that to the surface on which the objects sit.” Match classical design with classical ornamentation; use modern shapes and materials in a contemporary landscape. Outdoors, large pots are much better than small ones as they do not dry out as rapidly. Brookes continues, “This is the crunch. It is the planting that makes the pot… Whatever you do, decide upon one ‘look’ and go for it.”
Now on to some practicalities:
On planting and care:
Be mindful that containers dry out more quickly than the soil does. Sometimes rainwater cannot reach pots –are your pots under a patio roof or the eaves? Keep an eye on soil moisture; bulbs prefer a damp potting medium.
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