Gardening: RHS expert shares how to plant bulbs in containers and avoid ‘rot in the pot’

Horticulturist shares tips for planting bulbs in containers

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Now is the perfect time of year to start planting bulbs in containers or out in the garden. Planting bulbs now will ensure you have a stunning display in the spring months next year. RHS Horticulturist Alex Young at RHS Garden Wisley shared how to plant bulbs in containers and avoid them rotting.

Alex said: “To do this, all I need is my container, my watering can topped up with water, my trowel, a trug full of peat-free multi-purpose compost, and my main ingredient that I’ll be planting today: Narcissus ‘Prom Dance’.

“So to start off with, I’ve got my free-draining multi-purpose compost and we want to make sure it’s free draining, because the last thing you want is for the compost to hold too much water, and your bulbs to rot in the pot.”

Bulbs can be infected by fungi and bacteria which can cause rot and mould.

This can often happen when the bulb is sat in the soil over the winter months.

If you have bulb rot, your plant may have stunted growth come spring and may not flower at all.

To start planting your bulbs, you will want to plant the bulbs at least three times their height.

Put a layer of compost around a quarter of the way up the pot before planting your bulbs.

Alex continued: “First of all, we want to check through them all to make sure they’re firm and have some sort of hardness to them.

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“They’re not squishy and they’re not mouldy.

“So when planting our bulbs, we want to make sure the roots are facing down in the compost and the pointed tip is facing upwards.

“For a full display, to make sure your pots are bursting with blooms, we want to pack all the bulbs in, just leaving a slight gap between them all for compost to fill in.”

You can plant daffodils, crocus and hyacinths now by the end of September.

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Tulips need to be planted a little bit later in November.

Hardy summer-flowering bulbs like lilies, alliums and crocosmia can be planted now and in October.

Bulbs like gladioli need to be planed in early spring.

Once you’ve laid your bulbs out on your first layer of compost, you will need to top up the rest of the container with soil.

Alex concluded: “We’ve topped up our container with compost, all we’re going to do now is water them in.”

Gardeners should be aware that many spring bulbs are poisonous to humans and pets.

Many bulbs can look like onions so it’s important not to mistake them for one another.

If eaten, some bulbs can cause stomach upset and high blood pressure.

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