Crocus tommasianus 'Barr's Purple' flowering in small pots

The best bulbs for pots

Browse our list of the best bulbs for growing in pots, plus how to grow them.

Just couple of hours spent planting bulbs in pots in autumn will ensure an abundance of colourful blooms the following spring.

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You can pot up different bulbs in different pots, which means you can rotate the display, bringing those at their peak to the fore. Alternatively, layer bulbs in pots for maximum impact and a continuous succession of flowers.

Watch our No Fuss video guide to layering bulbs in pots:

If your garden is shady, concentrate on growing bulbs that do best in shade, including woodland anemones, scillas, narcissi and snowdrops.

We’ve picked our favourite bulbs to grow in pots, below.


1

Crocus tommasianus ‘Barr’s Purple’

Best bulbs for pots - Crocus tommasianus 'Barr's Purple'
Best bulbs for pots – Crocus tommasianus ‘Barr’s Purple’

Growing crocus in small pots shows them off perfectly. Place a few pots on your patio table for a beautiful tabletop display.

When to plant: September to November.


2

Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Golden Bells’

Best bulbs for pots - Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Golden Bells’
Best bulbs for pots – Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Golden Bells’

Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Golden Bells’ is a cultivar of Narcissus bulbocodium, often referred to as the hoop petticoat daffodil. It reaches just 20cm, making it perfect for pots.

When to plant: September to November.


3

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’

Best bulbs for pots - Narcissus 'Tete-a-tete'
Best bulbs for pots – Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’

Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ is one of the most popular daffodils for containers – it’s small but perfectly formed, with small yellow trumpets. If you didn’t get around to planting bulbs in autumn, plants are widely available in garden centres in spring. Other narcissus to try include dainty but robust ‘W.P Milner’. Any triandrus variety, such as ‘Ice Wings’ or ‘Hawera’, work well also.

When to plant: September to October.


4

Hyacinths

Best bulbs for pots - Hyacinth 'Woodstock'
Best bulbs for pots – Hyacinth ‘Woodstock’

‘Woodstock’ is one of the most beautiful hyacinths you can grow, with unusual, rich-purple blooms. It works beautifully in pots but also looks good in a spring border. Other gyacinths to grow include Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Carnegie’, which bears fragrant white flowers in April and May. ‘City of Haarlem’ is an unusual warm yellow, while ‘Delft Blue’, a pretty pale blue.

When to plant: September to October.


5

Tulips

Best bulbs for pots - Tulip 'West Point'
Best bulbs for pots – Tulip ‘West Point’

All tulips love the sharp drainage they get in containers, so if you can’t grow them in your garden soil, this is a great way to grow them. Just make sure they have a sunny spot. They will flower in April or May, depending on the variety. Tulip ‘West Point’ makes a big impact, as well as making an unusual addition to a border.

When to plant: October to November.


6

Snowdrops

Best bulbs for pots - Snowdrops
Best bulbs for pots – Snowdrops

Snowdrops, Galanthis nivalis, are among the earliest bulbs to flower in late winter. Galanthus ‘S. Arnott’ is a particularly lovely variety, with a green-striped inner bell and honeyed perfume from January to March. Other snowdrops to try include Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’ or ‘Blewbury Tart’.

When to plant: October to November.


7

Grape hyacinths

Best bulbs for pots - grape hyacinths
Best bulbs for pots – grape hyacinths

Grape hyacinths have brilliant blue flowers in spring and are a doddle to grow. They are very popular with pollinators, too. There are many lovely varieties to try, including Muscari armeniacum, all of the ‘Magic’ series – Blue, Ocean or White. ‘Valerie Finnis’ is a pretty pale blue.

When to plant: September to October.


8

Iris reticulata ‘Edward’

Best bulbs for pots - Iris reticulata 'Edward'
Best bulbs for pots – Iris reticulata ‘Edward’

Iris reticulata ‘Edward’, brings welcome colour in late winter and early spring. Growing in pots means you can appreciate the deep violet flowers, splashed with yellow. Other winter irises to try include Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’, which sometimes flowers as early as January, pure blue variety ‘Cantab’ and ice-white  ‘Natascha’.

When to plant: September to October.


9

Narcissus ‘Paperwhite Ziva’

Best bulbs for pots - Narcissus 'Paperwhite Ziva'
Best bulbs for pots – Narcissus ‘Paperwhite Ziva’

If you don’t want to venture into the garden in the depths of winter, you can enjoy forced blooms indoors. Narcissus ‘Paperwhite Ziva’ is one of the best you can grow, with white blooms and heavenly scent.

When to plant: September to November.


10

Tulipa humilis

Best bulbs for pots - Tulipa humilis
Best bulbs for pots – Tulipa humilis

Species tulips may be small, but they pack a punch. Tulipa humilis looks stunning in pots, where the delicate blooms can be appreciated, but they are also excellent for borders and naturalising in grass – they will come back year after year.

When to plant: November.


11

Scillas

Best bulbs for pots - scilla
Best bulbs for pots – scilla

Scillas produce vivid blue flowers in March to April. They are especially distinctive when grown in pots. Scilla bifolia has attractive crimson stems. Scilla peruviana has superb heads but needs a deep pot.

When to plant: September to October.


12

Alliums

Best bulbs for pots - Allium schubertii
Best bulbs for pots – Allium schubertii

Alliums look dramatic and architectural in pots – Allium schubertii in particular. They flower from May to June. Cut off the leaves when they start to shrivel or disguise behind other pots. Other alliums to grow include Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ and Allium sphaerocepahlum.

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When to plant: September to October.