Lots of pots

Layering bulbs in pots and containers.

Words: Angela Collins

Garden designer Angela Collins is an absolute whizz with a container. Planting up a pot is a real talent: bunging in a few things works okay but to get something truly earth shattering you need a plan. Angel has come up with a few recipes for pots to liven up your springs. No time to waste, get going…

The Modern

  • 1 or 2 large Euphorbia wulfenii subs.characias
  • 3 Anemanthele lawsonniana (2 or 3 ltr pots)
  • 3 Dryopteris wallichiana (2 or 3 ltr pots), underplanted with;
  • 30 Muscari macrocarpum Golden Fragrance
  • 15 Tulip Violet Bird and 15 Tulip Burgundy, or underplanted with;
  • 15 Tulip Stunning Apricot
  • 15 Tulip Burgundy

The Terracotta

  • 5 Fritillaria persica
  • 15 Tulip Pittsburg and 15 Tulip Indian Velvet
  • 25 Scilla mischtschenkoana
  • 25 Crocus Ladykiller

The Window Box

  • 3 Hellebore Niger (3ltr)
  • 4 Heuchera Limerickey (9cm)
  • 10 Narcissus Thalia
  • 10 Tulipa Pirvilla Lady
  • 7 Convallaria majalis

The Wine Box

for frost free greenhouse

  • 15 Anemone coronaria Bordeaux (need warmth)
  • 15 Tulipa Jan Reus
  • 15 Tulipa Havran

Method for Layering Bulbs

  • Always use a good  free draining compost such as John Innes No.2 with added horticultural grit, sort of 3-1
  • Put some crocks or stones into the bottom of the pot
  • Fill with the compost up to the point where your first layer of bulbs will start.
  • Each bulb needs to be planted 3 x their own depth.
  • With this recipe using the fritillarias, you will need to leave a space of 45cm or 16″, so make sure your pot is sufficiently deep
  • You put the biggest bulbs at the bottom, so put in your fritillaries, then cover with a good layer of compost.
  • Then add your 2 layers of tulips, mixing them up and leaving a bulb’s width between each bulb
  • Then add your Scillas and finally your Crocus’
  • A final thickness of compost to cover it all well and give your pot a good water and place it in a sunny corner of the house
  • Water it throughout the winter, probably once a month, unless there have been lashings of rain.
  • Now this is the important bit: As soon as green shoots appear, give your pot, a weekly feed of Tomorite or any potash fertiliser will do.
  • And if you want to keep your bulbs and lift and store them for the following year, then it is a good idea to keep feeding until the flowers fade.


When you store your bulbs, roll them in sand and a tiny bit of paraffin to keep the mice at bay