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New to the garden: container planting questions!

Hi. I'm very new to gardening and at the start of the year did some spring containers: tulips and daff bulbs, with pansies and violas on tops. They all seem to have died now and the pots aren't looking so great. I'd like to replace them with some summer/autumn flowers and maybe some greenery that will last more into winter. I'm a bit lost as how to do that though.. do I just dig out the existing plants and put in the new ones? Should I be save any of the roots/bulbs for next year? Or do they get thrown away now they've died back? Apologies if this is a silly question - any advice would be gratefully received!


  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 23,756
    edited June 2019
    Hi and welcome to the Forum.
    Never ever be afraid to ask questions because you think they may be considered " silly " we've all got to start somewhere and none of us knows everything. 
    I'd keep the daff bulbs as they'll come back if planted in Autumn, I'd stick everything else in the compost bin. 
    Garden centres are full of plants for containers now, so go crazy and get planting.  :D
  • iz.maeiz.mae Posts: 4
    @Hostafan1 thanks for the welcome and for the advice. Really appreciate it! Should I save the tulip bulbs too? Or just the daffs? And should I do anything special to them, or just shake off the soil and stick them in the shed until Autumn? I've already been eyeing up lots of pretty plants!
  • I chuck out my tulips each year and replace them with cheap ones from Wilko. You can try and keep them going, but in my experience repeat flowering is hit and miss. Daffs - dig up with foliage and leave in dark dry place until autumn or stick them in another pot, bit of soil and hide them away till Autumn planting. To flower well they need the goodness from the foliage to feed the bulb before dying back. Fill your empty pots with some multi purpose compost and slow release fertiliser and fill with your summer bedding - remember that some bedding plants like full sun and there are others for shade. Enjoy!!
  • iz.maeiz.mae Posts: 4
    @Sandygarden thank you! Really helpful! :)
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,120
    Hello and welcome @iz.mae 😀.
    An easy (lazy) way to change the seasonal display in a planter is to have a couple of plastic pots that can fit inside it. One containing spring bulbs and one for summer flowering plants etc.

    When the daffodils start looking tatty, you simply hoik out the pot and move it out of sight, down the back of the shed works for me 😉. Then you can pop in the summer pot and enjoy the fresh blooms 😁.

    Swap them out again at the start of spring. I scrape out the top few inches of old compost before the bulbs begin sprouting and replace with fresh, pop some new violas in the top and your spring display is all done without the hassle of lifting/drying/storing the bulbs.

    I agree that tulips never give as good a show as in their first year. I buy a couple of wilko packs each autumn for pots and the old ones get planted out to take their chances in the garden. Sometimes they flower, sometimes they dont 😕.
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 2,621
    Kitty 2 said:
    Hello and welcome @iz.mae 😀.

    I agree that tulips never give as good a show as in their first year. I buy a couple of wilko packs each autumn for pots and the old ones get planted out to take their chances in the garden. Sometimes they flower, sometimes they dont 😕.
    You can buy perennial tulips, sometimes marketed as species tulips.  They not only come back year after year, they form clumps which gradually get bigger; they will naturalise like daffodils or crocuses.  The flowers tend to be a bit smaller and less showy than the now-you-see-me-now-you-don't varieties, but I think they are much better value, not to mention you don't have the faff of planting them every year.  You might have to buy them online, the GCs tend not to offer them, because of course they want you to buy new ones every year. 
  • dappledshadedappledshade Top of the Hill, North London Posts: 518
    edited June 2019
    Welcome to the forum!
    No question is ever silly - and we were all novice gardeners once.
    As others have said, I'd probably ditch the tulips (they're generally not good repeat bulbs, putting on their best display in their first year) but hold onto the daffs.
    I usually leave mine in pots Year on Year, but my pots are fairly large and the daffs are miniatures, i.e.narcissus.
    They may clump up after several years though, then I'd lift them out and divide them up again.
    With pots, it's also nice to have other bulbs in there for different seasons, like some hederifolium cyclamens or some mini irises. I've got a large pot with hardy geraniums (they're not the classic pelargonium geraniums you may know about, that are thick stemmed and don't naturally die back every year, then pop back up in spring), that like part shade, with loads of snowdrops underneath, so I get a good winter display, then the geraniums grow up and cover the dying back leaves of the bulbs. 
    In a larger pot, you could also try sticking in an evergreen that gives you year round colour / greenery and is nice as a backdrop for the other stuff.

    Loads of cheap and cheerful annual plants in garden centres too. Just don't be scared to make mistakes, it's part of the fun  :)
    🎼"I've been driving in my car, it don't look much but I've been far, I drive up to Muswell Hill, I've even been to Selsey Bill..."🎹
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 ManchesterPosts: 5,120
    Thanks @josusa47. I do already have some species tulips but I also like to have a couple of pots of the big blousy double types too. 😁

    @dappledshade I love dwarf iris reticulata, so delicate and pretty. Another one that never comes back as good as the first year though, by yr3 it's all leaf and no flowers 😞.
  • iz.maeiz.mae Posts: 4
    Thanks everyone for all your helpful advice and tips.  Feeling a little more confident that I know what I'm doing now. Excited to get back out into the garden, get planting and enjoy some summer blooms!
  • debs64debs64 West Midlands, on the edge of the Black Country Posts: 2,198
    Anything sold as summer bedding should work don’t forget a few trailing plants round the edges, look for basket or trailing plants. Petunias geraniums nemesia verbena lobelia are some classics. 
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