Growing Daffodils in Containers
Narcissus 'Elizabeth Ann' on temporary display.
Narcissus 'Billie Graham' planted in a one-gallon pot.
Narcissus 'Spellbinder' growing in a large terra cotta container.
Do you purchase too many daffodil bulbs without enough space in your garden to plant them? Don't like the withering foliage after the flowers fade that hangs around the garden well into July? Neither do I. The solution is growing daffodils in containers.
A few years ago, I wrote an article about this in Trowel in One Hand, Bulbs in Another. Every year I bought too many bulbs, and every year I found I couldn’t get them all in the ground. Rather than waste them, I now pot them up and winter them over in a protected area until they bloom. At this point, they are staged in an honored position where I can enjoy them at their best. Once the flower show is over, I whisk the pots away and out of view while they ripen their foliage.
One way of utilizing summer containers before they are planted for the season’s display, is to use them to stage your bulbs that are planted in plastic pots. The next time you want to buy a container for your summer displays, also choose it for presenting your daffodil bulbs in spring. If you have black plastic pots in one, two, or three-gallon sizes, take them with you when you pick out your new pots. Find ones you like that can hold any of these size containers and can hide their ugliness. In spring when the daffodils bloom, plop their pots down inside an empty decorative container. When the flowers are finished, the pot is quickly emptied and ready to receive your summer plantings.
I’ve used urns, terra cotta, and decorative glazed pots. For a quaint and countrified look, I have an antique milk can, which holds a black plastic one-gallon pot. I’ve set black pots in the middle of ground covers that are tall enough to disguise the container with the flowers rising well above the foliage. You can also dig holes in the ground to place the plastic pots into, with the idea of taking them out of the ground to hide away as the foliage ripens.
I like to plant the bulbs in terra cotta containers, because terra cotta can go just about anywhere in the garden. I can set it out in the garden next to a purple and green painted pillar, or on top of a table—both look fantastic. I try to choose decorative containers big enough to plant at least ten bulbs. One time I packed 50 of them together in a large, shallow container. You can see in this article what a show it was. I staged it on top of a ceramic seat next to the front steps leading to my door.
Plant your bulbs close but not touching each other. A gallon container can hold about five to seven daffodils, depending on bulb size. Because you want them to bloom the first year, don’t skimp by buying smaller bulbs to save money. Smaller bulbs may not be blooming size. Buy a batch of plump, firm, double-nosed bulbs of the same variety for each pot. I also don’t recommend buying economical mixtures; since they bloom at various times, it could leave you with a dismal display. However, you can buy a set of different cultivars for each pot. Buying early, mid, and late season bulbs, you can rotate them around and have a long season display of striking daffodils.
A stand of daffodils growing in a container shouts out it’s springtime. There are so many ways you can present these seasonal charmers. Let your imagination be your guide. Place them next to your front door or some charming place in the garden. The fun part is the portability; if it doesn’t work in one location, simply walk it to a new one.