A symbol of love and beauty, tulips are stunning flowers that come in a range of colors. There are a variety of options for planting your tulips. Growing tulips in pots is a fantastic way to keep the critters from your bulbs, enjoy them indoors, or keep them protected outdoors. Read on to learn all the ins and outs of growing thriving tulips in pots.
Choose the Right Pot
When selecting a pot for your tulips, bigger is generally better. Find a pot with a minimum depth of six inches and a decent diameter. Approximately six tulip bulbs will fit in a 6-inch diameter pot. If you plan to leave the pot outside, it should be a minimum of 24 inches in diameter to provide enough insulation for the bulbs during the cold months.
In addition, look for a pot with a flat bottom. Tulip stalks tend to be tall and top-heavy when they bloom, so they need a sturdy base to grow in. Terra cotta and ceramic are ideal due to their weight, but plastic pots may also work for indoor plants which aren’t affected by the wind. Whichever pot you pick, be sure to select a pot with drainage holes as tulips prefer well-draining soil. Terracotta pots work well as they wick away the excess moisture, making it harder to overwater them.
Pick the Right Soil
Tulips prefer a drier, slightly-sandy, well-draining, but fertile soil medium with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. Select good quality potting soil from your local garden center as garden soil is not sufficient. Be careful not to use potting soil with too high of a peat or compost ratio as it may hold more moisture than tulips prefer. To encourage strong root development, add a high phosphorus fertilizer, mixing it into the soil when potting.
Bulb Placement is Key
When planting your tulips in pots, put them hairy-root end down with the tips pointing upward. Be careful not to push the bulbs into the soil or pack the soil down as this can damage them. Place the bulbs 4 to 6 inches in depth and only about 2 inches apart.
For a dynamic flower display, orient the bulbs so the flat side faces the inner edge of the pot. The largest leaves emerge from the flat side of the tulip bulb, resulting in the leaves cascading over the edge of the pot for a more aesthetically-pleasing arrangement.
Time Your Potting
For spectacular spring blooms, the most common time to plant tulip bulbs is in fall. However, planting tulips in pots means you have more options in terms of when to plant and enjoy your tulips. If you missed out on planting your bulbs before the first snowfall of the season, you can still plant them in pots throughout the winter months. You can even plant tulips as late as spring, either in the garden or in pots, and enjoy fresh blooms into the summer.
Overwinter Your Pots
Tulip bulbs require between 12 to 14 weeks of cooler temperatures before they will send out sprouts. When you grow tulips in pots, you can time this according to when you would like them to bloom. Overwinter your tulips in the basement refrigerator or an unheated garage, cellar, or attic, aiming for a temperature between 35 degrees Fahrenheit and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the temperature drop below freezing as the bulbs may rot and die.
You can then either bring the pots inside and allow the tulips to bloom or wait until spring to place them outside. Be sure to put them in a sunny location to fully enjoy their blooms.
One of the best tips for thriving tulips is to avoid overwatering. Water thoroughly immediately after planting your tulip bulbs. Keep the soil moist but not wet as the bulbs will rot. Check that the top inch of soil is dry before watering again by using the tip of your finger. Once your tulips bloom, update your watering routine to when the top 1/2 inch of soil is dry.
Tulips are show-stopping flowers that dominate any arrangement. Even though they can stand on their own, try adding a mix of smaller bulbs to your pots for an even more stunning display. When you grow tulips in pots, you can keep the pesky squirrels away from your precious bulbs, and enjoy them indoors or out. And if you have more tulips than you know what to do with, cut tulips make a timeless centerpiece display and you can even use the flower pedals as a gourmet topping.
Do you grow tulips in pots? Share your tips in the comments!