Pots brimming with spring bulbs lift the spirits after a long dark winter, but you need to plan ahead to create the most spectacular displays. As soon as temperatures dip in the autumn, look out for bulbs at garden centers or in mail order catalogs, and check flowering times for a synchronized display.
When to start: Mid-autumn.
At their best: Early to late spring.
Time to complete: 1½ hours.
You will need: Large frost-proof container, broken clay pot pieces, all-purpose potting soil, gravel.
Selection of plants to use: Tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth – muscari.
Prepare to plant
Add pieces of clay pot or plastic to the base of the container to cover the drainage holes. Then add a 2 in (5 cm) layer of gravel.
Plant in layers
Cover the gravel with good-quality potting soil, but leave sufficient space to cover your bulbs to the right depth. Space the daffodil bulbs on the soil, ensuring that the pointed ends are at the top, and cover with more soil so that the tips of the bulbs are just visible.
Now place the tulip bulbs between the daffodils and cover them with more soil. Finally, scatter the small Muscari bulbs on the top layer of soil and cover these, leaving a gap of about 2 in (5 cm) between the soil and rim of the pot to allow space for watering. Firm lightly.
Spread gravel on top of the soil and water well. To aid drainage and prevent the bulbs from rotting, raise the pot off the ground on “feet”, and place it in a sheltered spot. Move the pot into the sun when the bulbs emerge.