10 Best Bulbs for Containers

planting bulbs in containers

Popular, easy to grow bulbs for containers and pots

Growing flower bulbs in containers is a great way to brighten up your backyard or balcony.

If you have limited garden space or a shady backyard, container bulbs are perfect.

You can move the pots around to catch the sun and if you move house, you can easily take your potted bulbs with you.

Using flower bulbs that bloom at different times means you’ll have flowers for a longer period of time.

You can also add some annual seedlings, like primulas, violas or alyssum to your containers for extra color.

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Tulips in pots

The key to a successful container garden, especially when planting bulbs, is to make sure your containers have good drainage. Most bulbs will rot if the soil is overly wet for long periods.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that your bulbs don’t touch the edge of the pot as it can get hot and damage the roots of the plant.

10 BEST BULBS FOR CONTAINERS AND POTS

1. Tulips

Tulips are one of the most popular bulbs for containers and pots.

Tulip bulbs need to be exposed to cold temperatures before they’re planted.

In cool areas, the bulbs can be stored in a cool, dry place before planting or in warmer areas they can be stored in the refrigerator.

The best time to plant tulips is in early fall for spring blooms.

Water them after planting and you won’t need to water them again until spring.

Tulips grown in containers will bloom at the same time as those planted in the ground.

Once the flowers have faded, you can transplant the bulbs into your garden.

tulip bulbs in pot

2. Hyacinths (Hyacinthus)

Hyacinth bulbs can be planted in fall for beautiful spring flowers in a variety of colors including blue, purple, pink, cream and white.

Hyacinths have sturdy foliage, which means you can get away with shallow planting in containers.

After Hyacinths are finished flowering in late spring, the flower stalks can be cut back, but the leaves should be left to die off naturally.

The foliage helps the Hyacinths to gather energy for the next year’s flowers.

Important Note: Hyacinth bulbs contain oxalic acid, which can irritate the skin.

It’s a good idea to wear gloves if you’re working with Hyacinth bulbs for long periods.

hyacinth bulb in container

3. Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

Daffodils are beautiful, bright, spring flowering bulbs that come in a range of colors including yellow, white and cream.

They grow best in cool to temperate climates but they can also be grown in warmer areas as an annual.

After the plants have finished flowering and the foliage has died off, the bulbs can be removed from the soil and stored in a cool, dry place for the next year.

RELATED: 10 Beautiful Yellow Perennial Flowers

daffodils

4. Crocus (Crocus sativus)

Crocuses are popular perennials with blooms in a variety of colors including yellow, purple, pink, red, orange and blue.

Crocus bulbs, or corms, can be planted in fall and they will flower in late winter and early spring.

They’re frost tolerant and will grow well in full sun or part shade.

Crocus flowers

5. Iris (Iris germanica)

Irises come in a variety of colors, including blue, violet and deep purple.

Irises will bloom best in full sun. They can tolerate partial shade, but without enough light, they won’t bloom.

The rhizomes should be planted horizontally with the top exposed. In hot climates, the rhizome can be planted just below the soil surface.

Irises are frost hardy, deer resistant and can reach 2 – 3 feet (60 – 90 cm) in height. 

Purple iris

6. Millenium Flowering Onion (Allium Millenium)

The Millenium Flowering Onion is an easy to grow bulb that has grass-like green foliage and rich purple sphere-shaped blooms.

Alliums should be planted 3 inches (7 cm) deep and 6 inches (15 cm) apart.

They flower in mid-summer and can grow from 15 – 22 inches (38 – 56 centimetres) in height.

Alliums can be grown in partial shade but develop stronger stems in full sun.

RELATED: 15 Purple Perennial Flowers

Allium millenium

7. Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconite is a beautiful yellow, winter flowering plant.

Technically, Winter Aconite is a tuber, not a bulb. The tubers store moisture and food for the plant’s growth and survival over the winter just like bulbs.

Winter Aconites should be planted in late fall and they need to be well-protected from harsh winter weather, so plant them about 5 inches (12 cm) deep from the base of the tuber to the surface of the soil. 

RELATED: How To Grow Winter Aconite Flowers

Winter aconite container bulbs

8. Belladonna Lily (Amaryllis belladonna)

Belladonna Lilies are easy to grow, late-summer flowering bulbs.

They have long stems with trumpet shaped flowers in white, red and pink colors.

The teardrop-shaped bulbs should be planted with their tips just at the surface of the soil. 

Belladonna will grow well in a container in full sun with well-drained soil.

Belladonna bulbs

9. Anemone

Anemones are beautiful, brightly colored flowers that are perfect for pots and containers in a sunny spot in your yard.

They produce a succession of flowers over spring and can produce up to 20 flowers per bulb.

Anemone bulbs benefit from being soaked in water overnight to help them grow. [1]

Anemones should be planted 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cm) deep and 1 – 2 inches apart. It doesn’t matter which side of the bulb is facing upwards.

Anemone in pot

10. Bluebells (Hyacinthoides)

Bluebells are common British woodland flowers but they can also be grown in containers.

Bluebell bulbs should be planted at least 4 inches (10 cm) deep and grow best in shady spots or partial sun.

Once they’ve finished flowering, the bulbs can be lifted and planted elsewhere in the garden.

Bluebells

So, that’s my list of popular bulbs that can be grown in containers and pots.

Here’s a quick video that shows how to plant tulips in containers to make a beautiful floral display. I think you’ll like it.

RELATED ARTICLES

Have you tried growing bulbs in containers? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you on Pinterest? I have boards dedicated to Flower Gardening and Container Gardening that you may enjoy. You can also find me on Facebook.

Best bulbs for containers

Best bulbs for pots and containers

Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin. I'm passionate about gardening and horticulture and I love growing just about everything including herbs, vegetables, flowers, succulents and indoor plants. I've been gardening most of my life and I created this blog to inspire beginner gardeners to create their own urban garden. Read more

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Yay! I really loved this post. I am currently designing my own garden/patio and this really helped me!

  2. I love the bluebell bulbs and the hyacinth bulbs, to me, they are so beautiful. What a great suggestion for those with limited garden space. I would love to hear your thoughts for a garden space for those who live in an urban city environment with a small patio. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I was in the midst of trying to choose what flowers to put in my backyard and I need them to be in pots because I don’t have grass anywhere! Loved it!

  4. Do Tulips need a lot of water? I live in Florida and would like to have some indoors but my concern is that it is very hot here. Very interesting post.

    1. If you have them indoors they won’t need too much water. It’s good to let the soil dry out a little bit between waterings because the bulbs can rot if the soil is too wet.

  5. Definitely pinning this one! I had no idea you could grow bulbs in containers! This is a great and informative article I can’t wait to try it out next summer 🙂

  6. Just beautiful flowers. Having these around in the balcony would brighten up the day. Bulbs in containers never occurred to me before. I would now go for it.

  7. My boss’s dog recently passed and we were thinking of planting daffodils where she was buried to honor her memory (she was a golden retriever). Good to know that daffodils can survive in containers, maybe we can plant a few that my boss can put all around his property.

    1. Sorry to hear that Thuy. Daffodils would be a beautiful flower to honor the dog’s memory.

  8. Thank you for this post! I do not have the patience to grow plants in my apartment (and most of them die anyway, cause light/temperature is not ideal), but I am sending the link to my aunt. She loves flowers and has so many!

  9. I love the alliums! My kids call them ‘firework flowers.’ You’ve inspired me to plant some in our garden this year.

  10. I love flowers so much but don’t have the time or finances to really devote to making a garden as I would like it. It’s also just a lot to learn. From what you wrote it seems like the Tulips are the easiest except that you have to take them out after the flowers die and store them for another year. Can’t you just cut off the flower and they will grow again the following year? I wish God had created a flower that was always blooming. It seems like a lot of work to have it go away for a full year.

    1. Hi Alexandra, yes you can leave the bulbs in the pot and they’ll grow back the next year. I agree, it’d be so nice to have flowers that bloom all year long!

  11. All of these flowers are gorgeous! It makes me miss my garden, I had a large amount of beautiful flowers growing and had it tucked in an area I thought the garden would be safe in, but as soon as summer hit it burned all my plants to a crisp! I need to build a shade structure over the area.

  12. Looks beautiful! I like flowers in the garden. If you ask me I’d probably go for tulips, they are just so very beautiful!

  13. I have a ton of allium bulbs outside! I love them and had NO idea I could easily grow them indoors! Thank you for this and now I know how I will curb my Ohio winter blues!

  14. Thank you for this great info! I recently had to leave my garden behind and was looking for a way to start planting again. But I need containers so I can take them with me. I was lost until this post! Thank you!

  15. Those flowers look amazing! I would definitely love to try growing them in my garden. Very informative and certainly learned a lot.

  16. This is a great post. I want to have my own backyard garden with lots of flowers.

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