Time Again To Pot Up The Tulips

Yesterday I potted up 160 Tulip bulbs in 8 containers. This is 2/3 of the total, so not too bad. There’s 80 Tulips and 4 containers left to go.


One thing that made the work go a bit faster is that I now have a little potting bench, which I’ve tucked behind aHydrangea along the side of the garage. Now I can do most of the work standing up, which is good news for my back.

As I’ve written every year, I don’t do anything fancy with my container Tulips. I empty out the container, then replace the potting mix to the level where I want to plant the tulips. The bulbs should sit at least 8″ below the surface of the mix. Also, the mix gets refreshed with a couple of generous handfuls of compost.


This year I’m cramming in the bulbs a little tighter – 20 bulbs per container, as I indicated above. Most years I mix varieties, but this year it’s just one variety per pot. The plan was to order 200 bulbs, but I ended up with 240. That’s because ‘Suncatcher’ was sold out at John Scheeper’s, so I ordered ‘Annie Schilder’ instead, but then I found ‘Suncatcher’ at Brent and Becky’s (thanks to a reader of this blog), but I forgot to cancel the ‘Annie Schilder’. Anyway, it’s all good.

Putting one variety per pot means a more dazzling but shorter period of bloom. However, an advantage of Tulips in pots is that you can always move the best-looking containers to pride of place.


Another new practice I’ve adopted is labeling the pots, utilizing masking tape and an indelible pen. I’m assuming I can position the pots so that the labels are not visible.

file-28After I was done for the day I squirrel-proofed the containers with chicken wire, securing it with leftover pavers. Some time in November or December I’ll move these containers into the garage. The biggest thing with overwintering is to not let the containers get too wet or too dry – too wet being the more likely problem if they are left outside.

I notices that the Crocus bulbs had broken dormancy. I wonder if that means they are ready to be forced – I’ll have to see.ย 

I tried to save as many Tulips as I could for replanting, along with the Crocuses I included last year (an unsuccessful experiment which I didn’t repeat). However, most of the Tulips bulbs had rotted over the summer. Those that survived generally had split into at least 2 or 3 smaller bulbs.

Tulips like a hot dry summer, but a pot planted with annuals needs to be kept fairly moist. So if you want to save container Tulips for future seasons the time to remove them from the pot is in late spring or early summer, right after the foliage has ripened – and before you make your planting of summer annuals.

The Tulip varieties I’ve potted up so far are ‘Suncatcher’, ‘Princess Irene’, ‘Coleur Cardinal’, and ‘Ballerina’. I still have to get to ‘Fostery King’ and ‘Annie Schilder’.

Are you planting any Tulips this fall?

39 Comments on “Time Again To Pot Up The Tulips”

  1. I haven’t planted any this fall, but am hopeful that many from previous seasons will reappear. I usually get a few years out of them — I have put tulips in outdoor containers, but thankfully didn’t have to move them to the garage, as they were large glazed pots!

      • I actually did that with gladiolus years ago, but they were they cheap sort that I got in a bag from a big box store. They were worth it, although I felt guilty about not taking care of the gladiolus afterward. I might someday grow the common ‘Maureen’ tulips, just for bragging rights, but I won’t make a habit of it. I suppose it is no worse than growing other annuals. It is just more expensive.
        Years ago, we had a client who managed a vacant property for his client who obviously did not know how he was spending resources. He purchased a truckload or two of budded field grown rhododendrons that cost a few thousand dollars each so that they could bloom in the landscape of the unoccupied home. After bloom, the rhododendrons were discarded. The process was repeated annually.

      • 1%? The client did not live there, and would not have been so wasteful if he or she had. The 1% does not get to be the 1% by wasting. The ‘landscaper’ (our client) was just spending the resources because he liked to brag about it. I saw the property when I delivered the rhododendrons. It was very obvious that there were more important concerns to spend resources on. After seeing it the second year, and asking about the rhododendrons from the previous year, we did not sell to him again. It was pretty insulting and sleazy.

  2. No tulips for me, for a whole variety of reasons, but I still find these posts interesting as can be. There are some bulbs that do get planted in the ground down here. Would that chicken wire trick work for in-ground plants? I’ve heard friends grumping about squirrels, armadillos, and so on getting into what they plant, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about using chicken wire.

  3. I currently have 350 tulips taking up 2 shelves in my refrigerator . In about 5 more weeks they will be sufficiently chilled to plant outside. It’s hard to think of anything that is more cheerful than a big bunch of blooming tulips in early spring, and buying them every year is an extravagance that is well worth it to me.

  4. Your containers standing in your garden look similar to my own – except that mine are in a mix of soil, garden compost and my homemade charcoal
    I do not worry about Winter wet as the pots are really well drained and my plants stay out all winter.
    I am not quite sure whether you bring yours in for forcing but in my case they are for outdoor display in their ‘natural’ season. I too have densely planted a single variety or in some cases two complimentary colours
    I have deliberately planted my tulips late this year as they do not need as much cold as do most of the other Spring bulbs and there is little merit in being early
    All this on orders from ‘her indoors’ who wants to improve her view out of the window!

  5. Oh goody. I look forward every spring to see your pots alive with tulips. I tell myself that I will do this yet here I am without any tulip bulbs. I guess there is still time but, maybe I am too lazy. I will just enjoy seeing yours.

  6. I have bought just over 700 bulbs and am still planting outdoors, I am saving some fancy ones for forcing(a double Shirley and Exquisite). 330 are minor bulbs(crocus, pushkinia, iris riticulata, muscari and scilla that I put in with the tulips along with purple sensation allium. I sort of put them in the middle and back of the borders. I have two new terraced gardens this year to play in so need lots! Of course “Need”. I am retired so this is my new job! I have mixed botanicals, and gregiis(shorter bunching tulips). Also got 25 each Queen of Night and a pink one which should look good together with 8 packs of 12 from the grocery store of all purple, all pink and mixed with white. Then the redder colours! It should be a fun spring. I do have critters as I live in the country but they only seem to bother my crocus, I can live with that. The deer are kept away with fishing line and cans. So far so good, hope you have a great day.

  7. I always enjoy reading your posts about tulip planting. I don’t recall what Suncatcher looks like, but the others all sound familiar. I have planted a few new ones in pots (Praestans and Akebono), and in my new garden beds I have been reckless and planted loads, including Purple Dream, Ballerina and a peachy parrot one Amazing Parrot. I just hope they survive the wildlife here as our fence is not entirely rabbit proof and we do have a lot of mice…

  8. My soil is too wet over the winter so I too grow my tulips in pots. I went mad when ordering this year and seem to have ended up with far too many, I will pot them up soon and what a job that will be. I like your idea of a potting bench so that you can stand, I could do with one of those!

  9. Pingback: Time Again To Pot Up The Tulips โ€” gardeninacity | Old School Garden

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