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I have daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs which are planted in containers and have now finished flowering. The foliage is still green especially on the daffs. I would now like to empty the pots for veg planting and some summer bedding plants. Is this a good time time to empty the pots and how do I store the bulbs for replanting in the autumn?
No. Bulbs need to be left alone for the leaves to turn brown naturally - a minimum of six weeks after flowering in the case of daffodils. If you don't, then the bulb has no time to store energy or manufacture flowers for next year.
If you need the containers, plant the bulbs in a spare bit of soil to allow them to die back fully. Once the leaves have died you can take them up and store them in a cool, dry spot until re-planting in September, although not all bulbs like being out of the soil - snowdrops, for example, will simply dry out and die.
If you can't put them in soil to allow them to die back naturally you may as well bin them.
If you really need the containers for vegetables, consider buying another set. I have bulbs in pots, which I tuck away at the bottom of the garden and leave until the following year, using another set of containers in their place. Some pots I empty out and carefully plant in the soil. I don't usually dig them up, though, as I leave them to flower in place. This is a useful way of filling gaps in the garden. When you plant bulbs in the autumn you cannot always remember where you have bulbs planted. By planting them after flowering, you can fill the gaps and not disturb the other bulbs.
I have plastic containers for bulbs which are sized to fit into my terracotta pots. When the bulbs are dying down I remove the plastic pot, feed the bulbs with liquid fertilizer and store in garden - tulips in a sunny spot - daffs ok anywhere. I then have duplicate plasic pots (label them with the terracotta pot they fit into) and plant up my summer plants. At the end of the season, if the frosts threaten early, you can whisk the pots out and store in greenhouse until you can deal with any that can be overwintered.
Thanks to all who have replied on my question. Some pots I will store away and replace with new pots for summer bedding. I particularly liked the suggestion of fitting a plastic pot inside the terracotta pots and switching them around. Thanks for all the info and suggestions, most helpful.
Thank you all