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3 Tier bulb planting guide - by Adrian, Nursery Manager

Updated: Oct 5


  • Autumn is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Irises, and Hyacinths as well as the hardier summer flowering bulbs such as Alliums, Lilies and Crocosmia

  • All of these are ideal grown in containers to provide a wonderful show in the Spring.

  • To provide a long period of interest you can plant different types of bulbs within the same pot at different levels depending on their size and time of flowering. As a rule of thumb all bulbs are best planted about 3 times the depth of the actual bulb so the bigger the bulb the deeper it is planted. This is not always true though as we have the likes of Hyacinths that are planted on the surface with the tips showing.

  • Done like this, you need to plant the bulbs slightly further apart than you would in a pot with a single layer, so 1 to 11/2 inches apart is the right sort of spacing. The first layer can go as deep as 11-12 inches deep. Then cover them over with a couple of inches of potting compost before you place the next layer of bulbs and the same again with the next layer.

  • This is known by the Dutch as Lasagne planting as you are adding a layer at a time.

  • For the first layer of your pot I would go for something like a Tulip as these are the latest flowering of the bulbs them for the middle layer maybe use Narcissi then finish off with the top layer with the earliest flowering bulbs such as Snowdrops, Irises and Crocus.

What you will need:

  • A selection of bulbs, a bag of multipurpose compost or a specific bulb compost and a plant pot or container with holes in the bottom plus crocks for drainage to use at the base of the container. What bulbs don’t like is the addition of too much nutrient because as they grow up through the compost it can cause the foliage to burn and scorch.

  • Fertilizer burn is the result of over fertilizing plants or applying fertilizer to wet foliage. Fertilizer contains salts, which draw moisture out of plants. When you apply excess fertilizer to plants, the result is yellow or brown discoloration and root damage.

  • To promote good flowering next year, feed the bulbs every seven to ten days with a high-potassium fertiliser such as a liquid tomato feed. Begin feeding as soon as shoots appear, and stop feeding once the foliage starts to die down at the end of the season.


How to plant layered bulbs in a pot:

  1. First fill your pot half full with the compost and crumble out any lumps in it. Then place your last flowering and largest bulbs on the first layer, they will need to be slightly wider apart than the instructions on the packet say. Always place your bulbs with the most pointed end facing upwards, however if you're ever unsure which way to place the bulb, lay them on their side and they will still grow upwards.

  2. Next, spread a layer of compost over the bulbs, enough to completely cover them and then place your next layer of bulbs on top of the compost, it doesn't matter if the bulbs are directly placed on top of each other as the plants will find a way to grow around the bulbs if this happens.

  3. Finally plant your top layer of bulbs. We planted a few pots with varying layers of bulbs.

  • When you've planted up your pot(s), you can plant something on the top if you wish, a plant that will flower during the autumn and early winter months, such as cyclamen which would look lovely or winter flowering Violas or Pansies, as nothing will be growing in them until the late winter. They will need the occasional water, but not much, as bulbs don't like to sit in soaking wet compost.

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