Tulips are beautiful heralds of spring, but here in zone 7 the winters are not long enough or cold enough (and I am not complaining) to provide the chill cycle that the bulbs need for maximum annual performance. My tulips are beautiful the first season and then fail to return or return as wimpy specimens the next season. I’ve found an easy solution that allows me to enjoy the explosive pop of color from the tulips for several weeks each spring. I treat my tulips as annuals. Yes, I buy those bulbs and plant them knowing that once the blooms expire both the greenery and the bulb are headed for the compost pile.
Shawn loves tulips so one fall I stealthily moved the largest of my container pots to a spot outside her kitchen window. Unknown to her I had planted tulip bulbs in that barren container and explained it was a spring surprise and she would have to wait several months to know what lurked beneath the soil.
Shawn loved the flaming color outside the kitchen window and planting tulips in the large pot became a tradition. She has a flair for knowing which bulbs to choose for the best colors. The pot is sited strategically so neighbors on both sides can enjoy the display, too, and I have heard how much they also enjoy seeing the tulips light up the landscape.
How do we plant tulips in a pot? This is an easy DIY for anyone—townhouse owner, apartment dweller, homeowner—with space for a pot and the patience to wait a few months to enjoy the fruit of her labors.
Visit your favorite garden center in September and browse the tulip offerings. Shawn prefers the flame colored blooms over purples and blues.
Fill the pot with a mixture of soil and compost. I do not bother to sift the compost as wood chips and undigested sticks will not impeded tulip growth. I also place the pot in its final location and verify it is stable before adding the soil. Soil is heavy.
The tulips are planted in two layers to stagger the bloom times. With this simple step Shawn can enjoy tulip looms for nearly a month. Place the first half of the bulbs and do not worry about crowding them. These babies will pop up, shoot out a bloom, then fade away like last year’s fireworks.
Gently cover layer one with enough soil to hide the bulbs by at least an inch.
Add the second layer of bulbs.
Note that a package of bulbs may have a soft specimen. That reject can go directly to the compost bin.
Fill the pot to just below the top.
My garden is overrun with squirrels that dig in anything and everything. Place a piece of fencing or hardware cloth over the pot to impede the excavators.
Bend the four corners down so the fencing stays in place.
Insert two sticks as shown to keep the lid on the pot till the good stuff happens. Once the tulips are about 3” tall (next spring) I will remove the fencing.
Sit back, sort through seeds catalogs while the temperatures plummet and the snow blows. Then one warm spring morning inspect your work and be amazed at the green sprouts.
Soon your garden will blaze with glory. Not a bad show for the small effort required to produce it.
And may we never forget the One who orchestrates this wonder season after season.
So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth. Hosea 6:3 (NASB)