The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Bulbs Perform Double Duty

4.17.10 Narcissus 'Falconet' and Muscari latifolium at Peter's Gate in Full Bloom

3.27.10 Bulbs Planted Last October Sleeping in the Compost Pile

3.27.10 Bulbs with Yellow Foliage Revealed Waiting for Sunlight

4.3.10 Foliage Greened Up

4.7.10 Narcissus 'Sweetness' in the Window Boxes at my House

4.7.10 Daffodils and Grape Hyacinths Freshly Planted at Peter's Gate

4.17.10 N. 'Sweetness' doing their thing

4.17.10 My office planters: N. "Sweetness' and Hyacinthus orientalis 'Miss Saigon'

4.21.10 Narcissus 'Fortissimo' blooming from 2008 Planters in the Ruin Garden

For about 10 years, I have been planting spring bulbs in pots and planters and giving them a second life in the garden. The secret is to trick the bulbs into thinking they are in the ground the first year. If bulbs are planted in a window box or planter in the fall, they can not tolerate the change in temperature and will fail but if they are planted in your compost pile and then transferred to a window box they will flourish.

Daffodils , grape hyacinths and hyacinths are good candidates. Tulips do not work well because they are vulnerable to rodents. I like to choose daffodils that are fragrant and are good perennializers. N. 'Falconet', 'Geranium' and 'Sweetness' are good examples. N. 'Kendron', 'Thalia' and 'Stint' are long lasting in the garden but don't have as effective a fragrance. Larger daffodils that have forced successfully are N. 'Serola', 'Ceylon' and 'Fortissimo'.

A favorite grape hyacinth is Muscari latifolium. I like it because it is two-toned: having light blue florets on the top and dark violet below on each stem. Hyacinths add another color and texture with the added bonus of a heavy sweet fragrance. H. 'Peter Stuyvesant' is a lovely dark blue and H. 'Miss Saigon' is a very nice pink violet color. We tried H. 'Chestnut Flower' two years ago and we all agreed it was a putrid pink color that not a single volunteer wanted to take home to plant in their own garden!

Bulbs in planters and window boxes may seem like an extravagance but when selected and planted properly, they can also be long-lived perennials in your garden. Another advantage to this scenario is that when the bulbs are placed in the garden in early June, the holes in your planting are obvious (rather than trying to remember where they are in late October) and one can come up with the best combinations possible.


  1. I was trying to decide from your picture what your bulbs are planted in. Do you plant them in plastic pots? Are they just covered with leaves for the winter? A very clever idea. I love bulbs in containers for the spring, but you are so limited by what the growers chose to force.

  2. Deborah,
    They are planted in plastic pots and plastic flats filled with soil, usually the best "black gold" from the compost pile. Each are placed in large plastic packing crates that Brent and Becky's Bulbs send their bulbs in. Then I cover them with leaves for the winter.



Related Posts with Thumbnails