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Bulb combinations in pots

Had a couple of pot displays this spring but looking to improve on them this time round.

I suppose the best thing would be knowing what to definitely not plant together.

For example, I know tulips like it dry so I wouldn't plant them with Snake's head frittilary which, I'm told, prefer moist conditions.

I have the following bulbs-

Various Tulips
Dutch irises
Allium sphaerocephalon
Snake's head frittilary

Looking to put some of the frittilary and allium in a border anyway but not sure on other pot combinations.

Crocus/Daffodil/Tulip is an obvious one. Chionodoxa are lovely, could they go above crocuses in a pot? I know the bigger bulbs can handle being planted deep but not sure on something the size of crocus.


  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,420
    If they are growing in pots dont worry about dry soil etc. I layer my bulbs in pots tulips ( bottom ) - daffs ( middle ) - crocus / dwarf daffs / chinodoxa / other small early flowering bulbs go on top. Allium Spharocephalon is summer flowering so plant it in the garden instead. I would plant the dutch Iris on their own but its really upto you, there is no harm putting some daffs etc in with them. I just stick crocus in about inch or so.
  • So would having chionodoxa and crocus in the same pot be possible given they're meant to be fairly shallow?

    Unless I just plant them at the same depth? 3 different kinds of bulbs over 2 layers?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,642
    I used to mix bulbs but have found over the years that I get a better display by keeping them grouped in their own pots as they never seem to follow the expected flowering times and the earlier ones dying down detract from the ones in flower later.

    That way you can have smaller bulbs like crocuses and chinodoxia in shallower pots and trays and sit them higher up where they're more visible and then hide them away while the foliage dies down.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,952
    I'm with Obelixx on this - I don't mix bulbs in the same pot because unless you're very skilled at it, and have a very big pot that you can cram full, they tend to just look a bit empty and random, and the foliage of previous plants doesn't get well enough covered up by the emerging flower stems of the next lot. 
    The only ones I'd maybe put in together would be crocus and daffs. The daff foliage will cover the crocus foliage reasonably well.
    The chionodoxa would be fine in with the crocus as they're about the same size, and you can simply put in a tightly packed layer all at around the same depth. The chions. may need to be slightly deeper if the bulbs are bigger. Make sure to have enough of a colour contrast though, as the crocus will probably be a bit smaller [depends on the variety you have] and won't be seen among the chions. so easily. 
    I'd agree about the sphaero alliums too. They don't really make good pot specimens unless you pair them with something around a eighteen inches to 2 feet  tall, with decent foliage. They get quite tall and lank early on, and make around 3 feet [or even more] by the time they flower in summer. A central 'tower' of them in a big pot, with grasses or Libertias, right round the base would probably work though. Or another perennial like the silver convolvulous [cneorum] would give quite a good effect. 
    Dutch Iris don't come back reliably either, a bit like the reticulata ones. Pretty when they flower though  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,361
    edited September 2018
    I had a go with mixed pots last year. I decided that single species is better for me, I am not good at the mixes, mine were naff, I think you do have to be skilled as already mentioned.
     I did a mix of white daffs and pink tulips that almost missed each other, we had overlap but not the effect I had hoped for.
    Sorry I forgot the specific names, but for all the "research" I did, I still must have messed up.
    One sure fire nice combination was bulb pots (the wide shallow ones) with Black Ophiopogon .  I did one with bronze crocus and the other with Snowdrops. As the Ophiopogon is permanent, the bulbs looked nice. I think the crocus were Zwanenberg Bronze.
    Will be waiting to see if the bulbs come up again this coming spring. I did give it all a good feed, the Ophiopogon responded well even in the drought it stood up well though it got forgotten at times re watering.  Fingers crossed.
    I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Ophiopogon is so obliging and easy (also everblack), the bulbs gave it a nice lift, it was simple but dramatic for me.

  • I like to tuck tulips in amongst my potted Heucheras. You can either pick up on the leaf colours or contrast to get different effects.
    Tulips also look good, in a completely different way, planted with grasses such as Carex or Stipa tenuissima.
    Grape hyacinths also look nice under tulips, but the smaller ones, like Muscari aucheri or latifolium, rather than the usual M. armeniacum with the straggly leaves, unless you want them to hang over the edge of the pot. And there's always things like pansies  and violas or  Bellis daisies too.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,642
    Rubytoo - that sounds like a great idea.  I might pinch it.

    BCD - I also think tulips look good mixed with other plants but not other bulbs as they never flower when planned.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Dirty HarryDirty Harry Posts: 1,048
    edited September 2018
    When I did it last year I planted pansies in the top, likely to do the same this time and perhaps wallflowers with tulips.

    Might go for all of the same in one or two of my pots and mix up the remaining couple.
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,420
    I don't keep bulbs permanently in pots, once they done their thing I remove them and replant with summer plants.  I grow a few single variety's like reticulata iris / hyacinths on their own. One of my favourites planting of this spring was a purple Tulip forgot the name with sir Winston Churchill daffs 

  • That is an attractive combination Perki - just the right heights too.
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