top of page

Container Gardening

Click to Skip to...

Horizontal Topiary
Horizontal Topiary

What is a Horizontal Topiary?  Well, it’s not actually a topiary at all, but a unique shape cut from a flat of ground cover that lives in a container.  


Unique shaped cake pans, cookie cutters or cardboard cut-outs such as hearts, fish and other animal shapes give life to this Horizontal Topiary.  Planted in containers, these spirited forms and creatures make for lively conversation pieces and are great gifts as well.

  1. (Optional) Glue the glass drip protector onto the bottom of the glass votive cup. The drip protector has a hole in it so dab the glue around the bottom perimeter of the glass votive cup. 

  2. Glue the copper tubing cap onto the bottom center of the glass votive cup. 

  3. To set up your luminary- insert the 3-foot long copper tubing into the ground. Now set the glass votive cup with copper cap onto the copper tubing. The copper cap slips onto the copper tubing perfectly. 

  4. Finally, set a votive candle inside the votive cup and light up the night!

Chair Chic

My best,

  • 1 flat of ground cover.  Jill’s is made Isotoma, which requires a partially shady environment.  Other good ground covers include Scotch or Irish moss and baby tears.

  • 1 interestingly shaped cake pan, cookie cutter or cut a shape out of cardboard that suits your fancy (i.e. heart, fish or other creatures).  Jill used a heart shaped cookie cutter.

  • 1 container with drainage hole(s) to fit the dimensions of the cake pan

  • Clay shard(s), rock(s) or screen(s) to cover drainage holes

  • Sharp pointed knife (a steak knife works well)

  • Potting soil

  • (Optional) Time-release fertilizer appropriate for ground cover purchased

  • Pea gravel, small wood chips, beach glass or marbles to cover the unplanted parts of the Horizontal Topiary.

  1. Cover the drainage hole(s) of the container with clay shard(s), rock(s) or screen(s).

  2. Fill the container about half full with potting soil.  Smooth the soil so that it evenly dispersed.  If desired add time-release fertilizer to the soil.

  3. Set the cake pan, cookie cutter or cardboard pattern right side up on top of the flat of ground cover.

  4. With a sharp knife cut around shape.

  5. Lift the shape out of the mud flat and carefully place it onto the potting soil.

  6.  Fill in around the sides of the cut out shape with more potting soil.

  7. Place pea gravel, small wood chips, beach glass or marbles over the exposed soil.

  8. Water the Horizontal Topiary thoroughly and then place the Horizontal Topiary in a location that is suitable for its ideal growing conditions.

Double Baskets and 50-50s

Cooler weather is here and our thoughts of gardening most likely concentrate on bringing the outside in. Every room of the house can bloom with indoor potted plants. Combining your favorites in one container makes for long lasting floral decor. These accents of color are also relatively inexpensive decorating accessories. Double Baskets: 'Double Baskets' is a term we used in my flower shop to designate combining two or more plants in one basket/container. These displays literally enliven a living space. 


Another great thing about double baskets, they're super easy to make. Keep the plants in their original pots and then just insert them into the basket or decorative pot.

Double Baskets and 50-50s
  • 1 basket or decorative container that is at least 4-inches in height and will hold all the plants for your display 

  • Plastic garbage bag - needed for baskets or porous pots 

  • Scissors 

  • Plants- Select your favorite indoor varieties to fill the container. Make sure to select plants that have the same growing needs (i.e. all like the same light and humidity). 

  • Decorative moss

  1. Cut the garbage bag and line the bottom and sides of the basket/porous container. 

  2. Insert the potted plants in their original pots. 

  3. Hide the rims of the pots by covering them with moss.


If you have the "ho hums" because you can't get out in the garden, bring Mother Nature inside with potted plants combined with fresh cut flowers. It's container gardening with a twist. I call these baskets of blooms 50/50's because they are made by combining 1 plant along with a vase of cut flowers.

  • 1 basket that will snugly hold one plant and one vase of flowers 

  • Plastic garbage bag - needed for baskets or porous pots 

  • Scissors 

  • Vase filled with cut flowers 

  • 1 plant 

  • Moss

  1. Cut the garbage bag and line the bottom and sides of the basket/porous container. 

  2. Insert the potted plant in its original pot. 

  3. Fill the vase with fresh cut flowers and then insert it into the basket next to the plant. 

  4. With moss, cover the rim of the potted plant and use the moss to secure the vase if necessary.


  1. Water your plants regularly. When plants or flowers are faded, remove the old and slip new ones in. 

  2. Re-cut the stems of your flowers and change the water regularly.

Still Life Pot for Pop

What is a Still Life Pot for Pop? Well, it is a large container in which ground cover is cut to create a unique flower still life. Cookie cutters or small cake pans are used as our patterns. The cut out ground cover is planted as well as a small flower pot or vase to complete the still life. Find a cake pan or cookie cutter of your liking, then place it on the ground cover and cut around the shape. This will be the bloom of the still life flower. This spirited still life makes a real-life conversation piece and is of course a great gift for dad on his day.

  • 1 flat of ground cover. (Jill's is made of baby tears, which requires a shade loving environment. Other good ground covers include Scotch or

  • Irish moss and Isotoma which all prefer part sun.) 

  • 1 interestingly shaped small cake pan or cookie cutter (i.e. heart, flower, star or other appropriate shape. Jill's is a 5-inch heart shaped cake pan.) 

  • Optional: 1 leaf shaped cookie cutter to create leaves for the still life flower. (Jill's includes 2 leaves.) 

  • 1 flower vase or small clay, plastic, stone, ceramic etc. pot. This is embedded into the large container and acts as the vessel that the still life flower appears to be growing out of. (Jill's is a 3-inch flower pot.) 

  • 1 small annual (i.e. Lobelia) to be planted into the small vase or flower pot. 

  • 1 large low container with drainage hole(s) to fit the dimensions of the entire still life. (Jill's is 16-inches in diameter.) 

  • Clay shard(s), rock(s) or screen(s) to cover drainage hole(s) 

  • Sharp pointed knife (a steak knife works well) 

  • 1 short wood or bamboo stake used as stem for the flower which is really the cut out ground cover. (Jill's stake is cut 2-to 3-inches in length.) 

  • Potting soil 

  • (Optional) Time-release fertilizer 

  • Pea gravel or small wood chips to cover the unplanted parts of the Still Life Pot for Pop

  1. Cover the drainage hole(s) of the large container with clay shard(s), rock(s) or screen(s). 

  2. Fill the large container a little more than half full of potting soil. If desired add time-release fertilizer to the soil. Now smooth the soil so that it evenly dispersed. 

  3. Set the cake pan or cookie cutter used for the blossom of the still life on top of the flat of ground cover. With a sharp knife cut around it, thus creating an exact replica of the cake pan or cookie cutter. If leaves are desired cut them out as well. (Jill cut out 2 leaves.) 

  4. Remove the excess pieces of ground cover, leaving just the desired shape(s) just cut. 

  5. Carefully place the cut out shape that is acting as the blossom, onto the top portion (near the top of the pot) of the potting soil. 

  6. Fill in around the sides of the cut out shape with more potting soil. 

  7. Lay the flower vase or small flower pot on its side and then embed it into the soil. This vessel should be embedded in the lower portion of the large container. Leave half of it sticking out of the soil. Now plant a small annual inside this small container. 

  8. Plant the cut out ground cover acting as leaves. 

  9. Place the wood or bamboo stake that acts as the stem of the blossom into the soil. Make sure the stake is not embedded too deeply, as it needs to be highly visible. 

  10. Spread pea gravel or wood ships over the exposed soil. Now water the Still Life Pot for Pop thoroughly and place it in a location that is suitable for ideal growing conditions (sun or shade).

Still Life Pot for Pop
Still Life Pot for Pop Pt. 2

Many of us are entertaining this Independence Day so festive Fourth decorations become key. Of course traditional red, white and blue potted plants, flowers and even fruits are featured. This year my favorite patriotic centerpieces incorporate all three of these crops with simple, quick and dazzling designs. Shop early to find all you might need, as flower shops, nurseries and craft stores sell out of America's colors quickly.

Sparkling and Edible Strawberry Centerpiece

Strawberries become the center of attention and make up this entire delicious arrangement.

  • 5-inch clay pot 

  • Optional: white or blue spray paint 

  • 5-inch Styrofoam ball 

  • Large sharp knife to cut Styrofoam ball 

  • 4 to 5 large bush ivy leaves 

  • Approximately 10 greening pins or medium gauge wires you will need to bend to resemble a 'bobby pin' 

  • Strawberries 2 to 3 baskets 

  • Wood toothpicks enough for each strawberry

  1. Optional: Spray paint the clay pot white or blue. Allow it to dry thoroughly. 

  2. Cut Styrofoam ball in half with large knife. Place half of ball into top of clay pot, round side up. It may be necessary to shave the sides of the ball slightly to fit into the clay pot. 

  3. Cover the Styrofoam ball with large washed ivy leaves (remove the stem off each leaf). Pin each leaf in place with greening pins or bent wires that resemble a 'bobby pin.' VInsert toothpick into the top of the Styrofoam ball and then insert the bottom (stemmed end) of a strawberry into the toothpick. Continue this process until the Styrofoam ball is filled with berries. Place berries as close together as possible so that the ball is not seen easily.


* Store your Strawberry Centerpiece in the refrigerator until party time.

Strawberry Dipping Sauce

Guests can eat the Sparkling Strawberry Centerpiece and dip each berry into sour cream to which brown sugar is added. Use your own judgement on how sweet to make the sour cream.

Patriotic Planter

Potted plants left in their original pots and then insert into a slatted wood basket is all it takes to complete this patriotic planter. In just seconds your table with sizzle with color.

  • Slatted wood basket. The height of the basket should be kept low, approximately 4- to 5-inches, to best accommodate 4-inch pots. (Select a size appropriate for your table. Michael's Craft Stores have a good selection of slatted wood baskets, as do many other retail stores.) 

  • 4-inch potted plants, enough to fit generously inside the slatted wood basket. Annuals such as red zinnias, red petunias, blue lobelia, red or white dahlias, red or white miniature roses, red gerbera daisies, red geraniums, blue or red verbena… just to mention a few, all work well. Select a combination of plants or all one variety. 

  • Green moss

  1. Simply slip the plants (keep them in their original pots) into the slatted wood basket. 

  2. Moss around the plants to hide their pots.

Million Stars Centerpiece

A variety of babies breath (gypsophila) is called Million Stars. This variety looks almost like babies breath, but has a bit more blooms and is perhaps slightly longer lasting. Both appear as though a fire cracker is blazing. These small white blooms say 'Americana,' and also give 'country' flair, especially when combined with small red apples and a few colorful flowers.

  • Metal bucket, approximately 7- to 8-inches in diameter (available in the paint section of Orchard Supply Hardware, craft stores or florists) 

  • 3 bricks of floral foam 

  • 1 to 2 generous bunches of Million Stars (or regular babies breath) 

  • 5 to 7 small (lunch bag sized) red apples 

  • 5 to 7 long wood skewers (the kind used for shish kabob) 

  • 5 to 7 stems of either red or white roses, germinis (small gerbera daisies), zinnias, daisy mums, white lisianthus or white cosmos. (Select just one variety) 

  • Knife and floral clippers

  1. Soak the floral foam in water for at least 30 minutes. 

  2. Cut the foam and insert it into the metal bucket. The foam should come up just below the rim of the bucket. Now fill the bucket with water. 

  3. Cut and insert the Million Stars or regular babies breath into the foam. A round dome or oval shape should be created by simply cutting the stems at varying lengths. 

  4. Insert wood skewers into the bottom of each apple. Now insert the skewered apples into the Million Stars and floral foam. Insert them uniformly so that they are evenly spaced and so that the top of the apples meet the top of the Million Stars. 

  5. Now insert the flowers into the Million Stars and floral foam, again uniformly and so that the top of each bloom meets the top of the Million Stars.

Patriotic Planter
Packing Peanut Pots

Large containers are often heavy themselves, then add the potting soil and plants; they are usually impossible to lift or move. Luckily, many plants used for large container gardens don't need excessive amounts of soil. So to eliminate the backbreaking part of the job and to conserve potting soil, plant them first with packing peanuts and otherwise discarded items. The Good Gardener can simply fill the bottom of a huge pot with non-biodegradable packing peanuts, plastic milk jugs, large water bottles or empty old plastic plant pots. Regular potting soil fills the top portion of the pot, making a large container garden almost 50 percent lighter than filling the whole thing with soil. Now the large pot is more maneuverable and potting soil has not been wasted.

  • Large heavy container -- Jill's is a footed 29-inch tall rusted metal container with a 15-inch diameter opening 

  • Non-biodegradable packing peanuts and if necessary, filler items of plastic milk jugs, large water bottles, or otherwise discarded plastic plant pots. Gather enough packing peanuts and filler items to fill the bottom half of the large pot 

  • Landscape fabric or burlap 

  • Scissors 

  • Potting soil, enough to fill the top half of the container 

  • Plants -- Jill planted one 6-inch 'marble' poinsettia, four 4-inch leather ferns, four 4-inch pink cyclamen and three 4-inch variegated ivies

  1. Fill the bottom half of the large pot with plastic milk jug, discarded plastic pots etc. Fill around these items with packing peanuts. NOTE:

  2. Packing peanuts by themselves can be used without filler items. 

  3. To create good drainage and prevent the soil from mixing with packing peanuts and filler items, cut landscape fabric or burlap to lay on top of them. 

  4. Now fill the pot with potting soil; then plant the container. Jill planted the poinsettia in the center of the pot, leather ferns surround the poinsettia and are evenly spaced around the pot, cyclamen are planted between the ferns, and the 3 ivies are planted intermittently, but spaced evenly between some cyclamen and ferns. 

  5. Place the pot in the correct lighting position, sun or shade. Jill's is planted for shade. Water the container thoroughly. NOTE: The packing peanut pot technique can be used for indoor containers as well, just plant them with indoor varieties.

Chair Chic

Art in the garden is very popular, from small metal carvings to large sculptures, interesting pieces can make a garden custom and very personal. Garden art can be expensive however, so you may want to consider making your own. An otherwise discarded chair is the beginning of an artistic planter. It's an accessible and inexpensive way to put art in the garden. For example: an antique ice cream chair or small wooden chair is a terrific Chair Chic planter. By removing the seat and replacing it with a wire basket, you are on your way to creating art in the landscape. These wired baskets (designed for hanging planters) fit snugly into the removed seat of the chair. They are also available in a variety of sizes making them perfect for practically any sized Chair Chic planter. If you do not have an old chair on hand start looking at garage sales or thrift stores. The condition of the chair should be one to suit your own artistic eye, sometimes the "older the better," as a rustic look may be just the right touch in your garden. These artful planters look great in large or small settings, on a deck or small porch. 


  • 1 old chair in which the seat can be removed easily. Small wood chair or a metal ice-cream chair works well. 

  • Tools to remove the seat from the chair 

  • 1 wire basket to fit the chair seat opening 

  • Green sheet moss or cocoa fiber, enough to line the wire basket 

  • Potting soil 

  • Compatible plants (annuals work well)

  1. Remove the seat from the chair leaving the frame of the seat. 

  2. Line the wire basket with sheet moss or cut cocoa fiber to fit the interior of the basket. 

  3. Fill the lined wire basket half to three-quarters full with potting soil. 

  4. Plant your plants. 

  5. Place the Chair Chic planter in it's resting spot and water it thoroughly.

Fall Garden

Halloween is the kick-off to fall holiday decorating. Start the season off right by creating autumn container gardens, evening luminaries and potted pumpkin topiaries. Colorful autumn mums, peppers, kale, cabbage, asters, seasonal annuals and even grasses make enticing potted presentations. They look even better when massed as single varieties of one color in one container. The reason, more of one specimen creates impact and drama. 

Candle luminaries create intrigue and mood lighting for 'trick or treaters' and partygoers. Although available in many stores, you can make your own luminaries quickly, easily and inexpensively with glass votive cups and copper tubing. 

If you want something really fun and easy, try stacking two pumpkins on top of eachother to make a simple seasonal topiary. 

All of these projects make for a festive Fall- Halloween garden.


Fall Planters

Select your favorites Fall plants and plant them up as single varieties of one color or hue in one container. Vary the container sizes (small, medium and large) to make a stylish grouping. Remember, each container is home for the individual type of plant and palette chosen.



  • 1 glass votive cup 

  • (Optional) 1 glass drip protector (glass bobeche)- The bobeche is for decorative purposes only. 

  • Glass Glue (available at hardware stores) 

  • One 3-foot long copper tube, one-half inch in diameter 

  • One copper tubing cap, one-half inch in diameter 

  • 1 votive candle

Pumpkin Topiary
  • Select 2 pumpkins of the same size. Test the pumpkins to make sure they will not topple easily when stacked on top of eachother. (Large pumpkins make a big impact.) 

  • Select a pot that the pumpkins sit steadily on top of 

  • 2 grapevine wreaths- The wreaths will need to fit the bottom diameters of the top and bottom pumpkins. 

  • Pruning shears

  1. With the pruning shears, cut off the stem of what will be the bottom pumpkin. 

  2. Set one grapevine wreath around the opening of the pot. Now set the bottom pumpkin on top of the wreath/pot. 

  3. Set the second grapevine wreath on top of the bottom pumpkin. Now set the second pumpkin on top of the bottom pumpkin.

Bring the garden to new heights by planting its walls, gates and fences with blooming bouquets of WallFlowers. Half round wire baskets adorn the garden boundaries or perhaps even the front door when filled with annual color. WallFlowers are perfect solutions for large or small spaces. In large gardens they create a focal point, yet in petite patios where space is limited, they extend the planting possibilities. Grouping several baskets or hanging just one can bring the garden to the places you hang out. 


The easiest wall gardens use just one annual variety. Alyssum in either jumbo six-pacs or cell pacs offer lavender, pink, white and fuchsia tones, while trailing lobelia gives blue and white hues. The options are endless. Pick the flavor that matches your outdoor color scheme. 


The only downfall of uplifting WallFlowers is their need for constant water. These striking wall displays, while beautiful, tend to dry out quickly. To the rescue are two relatively new products now in many garden centers: potting soil containing water retentive polymers (small water retentive crystals) or, water-storing granules that can be mixed into basic potting soil you might already have on hand. These polymers of course help keep your WallFlowers moist and the need to water becomes less frequent. Well-watered plants mean better germination and more consistent quality of the soil.


  • Half-round wire wall basket. Jill's wired wall basket is 12-inches long x 7-inches high 

  • 1 medium sized bag of green sphagnum moss (available at garden centers) 

  • Bucket or bowl for soaking moss 

  • Potting soil (If possible purchase potting soil with polymers already added or purchase water-retaining granules and mix them into regular potting soil.) 

  • Select your favorite annual. Jill's wall garden contains: 4 to 5- jumbo six-pacs of an Alyssum mix of lavender, white and fuchsia for the sides of the basket, and 1 cell 6-pac of fuchsia and white Alyssum for the top of the basket. 

  • Time-release fertilizer pellets

  1. Soak moss in a bucket or bowl of water. Ring out the excess water in the moss and then line the back of the basket. 

  2. Plant the lowest rows of the basket first . Loosen the root ball and then wrap wet moss around each cell-pac plant. Now push the plant through the wire weave of the basket. The roots of the plant should be set towards the center of the basket. Also make sure the moss is holding the plant in place and covering the soil of the plant that sits against the outside of the basket. Add more moss if necessary. 

  3. Once you have planted the lowest rows, add a bit of soil, then add just a tad of time released fertilizer. Now water this layer. 

  4. Continue this planting process until you get approximately 2-inches from the top of the basket, then stop! You will need depth to plant the top.

  5. Now line the top rows of the wire basket with wet moss. 

  6. Plant Alyssum in the top of the wall garden. Add more soil and time-release fertilizer, then water the wall basket thoroughly. 

  7. Hang the WallFlowers from a sturdy hook or nail in a spot appropriate for its particular lighting needs (Alyssum takes full to part sun). Always keep your WallFlowers well watered.

Summertime Potted Passions

Container gardening is my passion. A single pot is the pallet to plant up my favorite summer selections. I turn to the more unusual and contain what doesn't exactly fit into my garden beds, in terms of style, into a miniature landscape. From southwestern to tropical adventures, it's here in a pot, that I allow my imagination and creativity to run wild. If grasses are your hidden passion plant them with complementary annuals or perennials. Perhaps you go bananas for the more exotic or want 'country' color. Whatever the theme, pick a pot and plant it with either a whim or your alter garden ego. 


Below are three combinations to celebrate summer!


Country Classic
  • Rudebeckia 'Becky' - Golden yellow petals surround a dark brown center. 

  • Rudebeckia 'Irish eyes' Yellow to gold, daisy-like blooms are good cut flowers. Distinctive olive green eye. 

  • Rudebeckia 'Summerlight' or 'Toto' - Masses of pure golden yellow flowers with a deep brown central cone on dwarf compact plants. 

  • Zinnia - 'Dreamland Mix,' Zinnia - Peter Pan Orange, Zinnia 'Profusion Orange'. All Zinnia varieties grow approximately 10- to 12-inches in height.

  • Verbena Mix - Low growing plant with colorful flower clusters. Grows 6-to 7-inches tall. 

  • All varieties enjoy full sun to partial sun. 

  • Water when soil is dry to the touch (moderate water). 

Tropical Treasure
Grassy and Classy
  • Hibiscus- Many nursery bought hibiscus plants are cultivated in part shade. Therefore, when you get your hibiscus home, introduce it to full sun slowly. Over a period of about 10 days, gradually move it to full sun conditions. Ultimately it will want at least 50% sun. Never allow your hibiscus to dry out. Strong dry winds can burn leaves but they will recover. 

  • Rumex 'Sanguineus'- Bloody dock or red-veined dock. Good for borders or containers. Very attractive foliage. Foliage is light green with strong maroon-colored veins. In summer this plant produces tiny flowers with star-shaped brown fruit following. 

  • Both varieties are perennials and like full sun to part shade. 

  • Never allow the soil to dry out. Keep moist!

  • Phormium 'Tom Thumb'- Phormiums are grasses that grow in many colors. 'Tom Thumb' has burgundy blades that, as they mature, turn green and then leave a burgundy edge. Phormiums in general, make a great backdrop for corresponding or complementary colored plants. 

  • Osteospermum (African Daisy)- Bears a profusion of daisy-like flowers of blue-lavender, white, yellow or orange. Pinch young plants to produce bushiness and deadhead regularly to promote more blooms. Cut back old sprawling branches to young side growth in late summer to mid-fall. 

  • Both are perennials and like full to part sun. Additionally, both varieties are drought tolerant so very little water is sufficient.

Summertime Potted Passions
Bushel Baskets
Bushel Baskets
  • Phormium 'Tom Thumb'- Phormiums are grasses that grow in many colors. 'Tom Thumb' has burgundy blades that, as they mature, turn green and then leave a burgundy edge. Phormiums in general, make a great backdrop for corresponding or complementary colored plants. 

  • Osteospermum (African Daisy)- Bears a profusion of daisy-like flowers of blue-lavender, white, yellow or orange. Pinch young plants to produce bushiness and deadhead regularly to promote more blooms. Cut back old sprawling branches to young side growth in late summer to mid-fall. 

  • Both are perennials and like full to part sun. Additionally, both varieties are drought tolerant so very little water is sufficient.

  • Bushel Basket (9.5-inches tall by 14-inches in diameter) 

  • Potting soil 

  • One each of the following plants: 1 gallon zinnia (zinnia assorted, Jill's includes orange/peachy zinnias with pink zinnias too), 1 gallon Angelonia 'Angelmist Purple Stripe', 1 gallon Coreopsis grandiflora 'Early Sunrise', 4-inch Salvia 'Greggii Red', 4-inch Nemesia fruticans 'Blue Bird.' 

  • Time released fertilizer

  1. Fill the bushel basket one third full with potting soil. Blend time released fertilizer into the soil. (Read the instructions on the fertilizer container for quantity). 

  2. Start at the back of the basket, plant the zinnia, then locate the Angelonia to one side of the zinnia, now plant the Coreopsis more or less in front of the these plants. The 4-inch Salvia and Nemesia fill the small gaps between the 1 gallon plants. Fill in with more potting soil. 

  3. Water the container well and set in full to partial sun.


*Note: Keep an eye on this container, as it will dry out quickly in the heat of the summer sun.

Annual and Perennial Bushel Basket
Materials (Jill's Bushel Basket Planter)
Materials (Jill's Pink Bushel Basket Planter)
Herb Bushel Basket

Select 3 of the following 6-inch varieties-pink hydrangea, pink azalea, Pineapple flower, Snow Bush. Plant in 9.5-inches tall by 14-inches in diameter bushel basket. Place in bright filtered sunlight outdoors.

Follow the above instructions but plant a variety of herbs. Jill used an 8-inch tall by 11-inch diameter bushel basket. It is planted with 4-inch herbs that include sweet basil, dark opal basil, English thyme, Bergarten sage and Lavender 'Quasti' Spanish lavender). Place in full to partial sunlight.

Spring Bulb Bouquets
Spring Bulb Bouquets

One of my most favorite fall gardening tasks is to layer spring blooming bulbs in one big pot. Not only is it enjoyable and easy, but planting spring bulbs in autumn reminds me that springtime is just a few short months away! Layering different varieties of bulbs in a single pot grows spring flower bouquets that bloom throughout the season. However, to make your pot attractive now in the fall, top off the bulb pot with colorful annuals. 


Another dramatic display is to simply plant one variety, perhaps tulips, in one container. This way Good Gardeners get a big splash of the same color all at once. A huge pot of one kind of bulb is quite the eye-popper. 


Here's how to enjoy spring blooming bulbs in autumn and of course come spring.

Bulb Layering Technique
  • 1 large pot approximately 14-inches in diameter by 14-inches deep, the bigger the pot the better. 

  • Clay shard to cover the drainage hole 

  • 1 large bag of potting soil 

  • Bulbs- Approximately 12 to 15 large daffodil bulbs (big yellow daffodils fill the bottom layer). Approximately 10 to12 hyacinths for the middle layer (blue hyacinth look sensations with the yellow 'daffs'). Approximately 10 to 12 freesia bulbs for the top layer (white or purple freesia or both colors look stunning with the blue and yellow colors of the other bulbs). 

  • Top off the pot with annuals- Three to four six-pacs of pansies or violas or four to six 4-inch other sun-loving annuals.

  1. Place clay shard over drainage hole in container. 

  2. Fill container with 3- to 4-inches of potting soil. 

  3. Plant the daffodil bulbs with their pointed ends up, 1-inch apart. Cover with approximately 2-inches of potting soil. 

  4. Next, plant the hyacinth one finger apart; again with the point of the bulb facing upwards. Cover with approximately 2-inches of soil. 

  5. Finally, plant the freesia about 1/2-inch apart on top layer; then cover them with an inch of soil and tamp down the soil lightly. 

  6. Plant the top of the container with annuals and then water the entire planting thoroughly. 

  7. Set the planted pot in full sun or partial shade. Enjoy the annuals while waiting for the bulbs to burst through. Each variety will bloom at different times throughout the spring season.

Tall Tulip Pot

'French' tulips are the very tall, big bloomed variety. Tall tulips will bring drama to new heights in your garden! If your tulip bulbs were not pre-chilled, chill them in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks prior to planting.

  • One 12- to 14-inch tall x 12- to 14-inch diameter pot 

  • Clay shard to cover the drainage hole 

  • Approximately 10 to 12 'French' (tall) tulip bulbs, all one variety 

  • Potting soil 

  • Sun loving annuals, enough to top off the pot

  1. Place clay shard over drainage hole in container. 

  2. Fill container with soil so that the tulips will be planted 6-inches deep. (In general, bulbs like to be planted two to three times the diameter of the bulb.) 

  3. Plant the tulip bulbs with their pointed ends up, with about ½-inch of soil between each bulb. It's also best to position the tulips with the flat side of the bulb facing outward. That way, the first large leaf on each bulb will grow over the rim of the pot. 

  4. Cover the tulips with potting soil so that the points of the tulips are barely visible. Do not tamp down the soil too hard. 

  5. Top off the pot by planting it with annual color. 

  6. Now water the pot and keep it in good strong light outdoors.

Forcing Bulbs

'French' tulips are the very tall, big bloomed variety. Tall tulips will bring drama to new heights in your garden! If your tulip bulbs were not pre-chilled, chill them in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks prior to planting.

  • Bulb pot 

  • Clay shard 

  • Potting soil 

  • Vermiculite 

  • Bulbs, enough to fill the whole pot (narcissus, hyacinths, tulips and amaryllis work well for forcing) 

  • (Optional) Clay saucer, large enough to cover the pot and decorative ribbon

  1. Mix vermiculite into regular potting soil. This insures good drainage which bulbs need. 

  2. Next, place a clay shard over the drainage hole and fill the pot with at least an inch of the soil/vermiculite mixture. 

  3. Space bulbs closely leaving about a finger's room between each bulb. 

  4. Gently pack the soil between bulbs and barely cover the bulbs with soil/vermiculite mix. 

  5. Water the bulb pot and place it in a cool, dark place, until shoots appear above the soil. (Remember to continue watering the pot while waiting for the precious shoots.) 

  6. When shoots appear, bring the pot into a warm, sunny spot. It takes about 15 weeks for most bulbs to bloom.

For gift giving

Skip steps 5 and 6 but copy the above 'Directions' and place them inside the pot on top of the bulbs. Place a clay saucer over the pot as a lid. Tie a decorative ribbon around the pot and saucer to secure it. Now it's covered and tied up and ready to give to a special friend!

Planting Depths and Planting Schedule for Bulbs
  • Bearded iris 1-inch (Jan.-Sept.) 

  • Tuberous begonia 1-inch (Mar.-June) 

  • Anemone 2-inches (Fall for Spring) 

  • Crocus 2-inches (Fall) 

  • Freesia 3-inches (Early Fall) 

  • Muscari 3-inches (Fall) 

  • Spraxis 3-inches (Oct.-Nov.) 

  • Scilla 4-inches (Sept.-Oct.) 

  • Ixia 4-inches (Fall) 

  • Ranunculus 4-inches (Fall for Spring) 

  • Bulb iris 4-to 5-inches (Fall) 

  • Glory of the Snow 4-to 5-inches (Fall) 

  • Gladiolus 5-inches (Spring Weather) 

  • Dahlia 6-inches (Late Spring) 

  • Canna 5-to 6-inches (May-June) 

  • Calla 6-to 7-inches (Fall for Spring) 

  • Tulip 6- to 7-inches (Oct.-Jan.) 

  • Hyacinth 7-inches (Sept.-Nov.) 

  • Lily 7-inches (Fall) 

  • Daffodil 7-to 8-inches (Fall)

Fall Garden
Packing Peanut Pots
bottom of page