Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Spring-Flowering Bulbs in Containers

~ November 30, 2011

It never fails. Every year at this time I receive an email from a gardener who has forgotten to plant their tulip bulbs. My advice to them: Why not create a containerized display to impress the neighbours next spring?

This recipe also works with the bulbs you buy at the ‘end of season’ clearance sales.
Choose a large decorative planter with good drainage. Start with a layer of gravel on the base of the pot. This will keep the drainage holes clear of debris. Use a container soil mix which has peat, vermiculite and compost (Mark’s Choice Container Mix is excellent).

In order to maintain a succession of flowers, several types of bulbs can be planted in the same pot, providing it is deep enough. Be sure to plant the largest flowering bulbs on the bottom, smallest on top.

To make this simple, I created a variety of spring bulb collections that work well when creating a great show of several bulb varieties in one container. Look for the Mark’s Choice bulb collections at Home Hardware.

Add a layer of container mix, and place the biggest bulbs on this, such as Narcissi. Then add a further layer of container mix to about 2.5 inches and place the next layer, in this case, Tulips. Add a further layer of container mix and plant your final bulbs, such as crocus, and top the container off, finishing the soil an inch below the top of the pot to allow for watering. The result will be a beautiful display of colour which flowers in successive stages.

Bulbs in containers do not usually survive harsh winter temperatures. Make sure the container is free-draining and bury the whole thing in the garden for the winter. Another option is to keep the container in an unheated garage against the wall shared with the home. A cold cellar is the ideal place to over winter the container.
Remove it from cold storage or from the garden in spring when frost is out of the ground and place in the desired location.