How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot: 13 Steps

You love tulips. (We all do.)

You love daffodils. (Like the rest of us.)

You want BOTH!

Which one should you plant in your container?

You don’t have to choose between the two.

You can plant tulip bulbs and daffodil bulbs together in the same pot for color all spring. The daffodils will bloom first in early spring. The tulips will make their appearance in late spring.

Tulip and daffodil bulbs are easy to plant together and grow in containers.

They make a charming addition to a spring cottage garden.

But there are a few ways to fail.

Don’t worry! They are easy to avoid.

I’ll show you exactly how to do it so you can be sure spring rewards you with containers filled with gorgeous blooms.

(If you want to learn how to plant Dwarf Irises, an early spring bloomer, in containers, see my blog HERE for all the know-how.)

How to Plant Tulip Bulbs with Daffodil Bulbs in a Container

1. Plant Your Daffodil and Tulip Bulbs in the Fall

First of all, be sure to plant your bulbs at the right time.

Tulip and daffodil bulbs should be planted in the fall when temperatures at night begin to reach between 45-50 degrees.

You can use this as a guideline to know when to plant your bulbs wherever you live.

I’m in zone 7 and always plant my bulbs in October whether I’m planting them in the ground or containers.

The containers look so charming in the spring in my cottage garden.

2. Choose a Container with Drainage Holes for Happy Bulbs

Tulip and daffodil bulbs will rot if they sit in water or soggy soil.

Make sure the container you are using to plant your bulbs has drainage holes at the bottom of it.

If it doesn’t, you will need to drill out some holes if possible.

This assures any excess water won’t be trapped in the container.

3. Determine the Depth your Bulbs Should be Planted

When you buy your tulip and daffodil bulbs, read the packaging to determine the proper depth you should plant them.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

The depth the tulips and daffodils should be planted is right on the container. This is your best source of information when planting tulip and daffodil bulbs.

If you buy your bulbs individually, ask about the variety of the bulb so you can research it later to determine how deep it should be planted.

Tulips should generally be planted 5-6” deep. Daffodils can be planted between 3-6” deep.

As a rule of thumb, bulbs should be planted about 2 times as deep as the size of the bulb.

When you are planting bulbs in a container, you can often get away with planting them shallower than the package instructs.

This is especially true if your bulbs will be in mild temperatures.

The only time I plant my bulbs shallow is if my container is not deep enough.

In that case, I will leave about 3 inches of soil below the bulbs for the roots to develop and just make sure most of the top of my bulb is covered with soil.

I will leave my container in an unheated garage or shed if I choose to plant them that way to ensure they won’t be exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees.

I’ll share more on the temperature below.

4. Fill your Container with a High-Quality Potting Soil

Tulips are generally planted deeper than daffodils.

Tulips also bloom later than daffodils. So plant the tulip bulbs first.

From the package, we determined that our tulips can be planted 5” deep.

Measure down from the rim of your container to 5 inches then add 1 inch for a total of 6 inches.

Fill your container with high-quality potting soil to that 6-inch line.

The extra 1 inch is to account for the space to be left at the top of the container.

It will serve as a basin for water and prevent any potting soil from being washed away.

If in doubt, err on the side of planting your bulbs too shallow rather than too deep.

If the bulbs are planted too deep, they will not bloom and will decay over time.

So don’t go any deeper than 6 inches.

Feel free to cheat a bit toward the 5-inch line if you aren’t sure.

5. Plant your Tulip Bulbs Tips Up

Now it’s time to put your tulip bulbs in the soil.

Place them with the tips up and the roots down.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

This is a tulip bulb with its tip up and roots down. This is the direction you should plant the tulip bulb in the container.

When you are planting tulip bulbs in a container, you can space them pretty close together.

You can put them so close they are almost touching.

Since we are also planting daffodils above the tulips, I would leave an inch or two between the bulbs.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

Tulip bulbs in a container with the tips up and roots down. They are ready to be covered with potting soil.

If you don’t have enough tulip bulbs to fill your container, don’t stress about it.

Take note of how many you are planting and next spring determine if you want to plant more the following fall.

6. Cover the Tulip Bulbs with Soil Just to the Tips.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

When I am layering tulips and daffodil bulbs in a container, I plant my tulips first. Then I cover them with soil but leave the tips showing. This shows me where the tulips are so I can plant the daffodil bulbs in between them.

Cover your tulip bulbs with high-quality potting soil or mix being sure the tips remain up.

I like to cover everything but the tip of each bulb so I can see where to plant my daffodil bulbs.

7. Plant your Daffodil Bulbs Between the Tulip Bulb Tips.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

You can see the tulip bulbs’ tips peeking out and the daffodil bulbs resting on top of the soil in between the tulip bulbs. Tips are up and roots are down.

Place your daffodil bulbs in the container in between the tips of the tulips.

Remember to keep the tips up and the roots down.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

This daffodil bulb has the tip up and the roots down. Even though the roots aren’t developed yet, we hope they will develop over the next few weeks in the good soil we are planting them in.

Cover the bulbs with the potting soil.

Fill the rest of the container with your potting soil, leaving 1″ at the top.

Be sure the daffodil tips remain upright and that you leave about an inch at the top of your container.

As I mentioned before, that 1” space serves as a basin to capture water and also prevents the water from washing away the soil,

8. Sprinkle Some Bulb Fertilizer on Top and Water

So much depends on the root development of the bulbs.

Throwing in some fertilizer isn’t necessary but it might help.

I always do it because I feel like I’m giving my bulbs every chance I can to help them thrive.

How to Plant Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs in a Pot

I always fertilize my bulbs after I finish planting them. The fertilizer will make its way to their roots over time and gently feed them. This isn’t necessary but I always like to give the roots a boost for development to handle the winter and bloom their best in spring.

Give your bulbs a good dose of water to get them off to a good start.

They won’t need a lot of water in the future (remember that bulbs will rot so they don’t need soggy soil).

However, you might want to give them a drink once a week if it doesn’t rain or if you are keeping them in your garage or shed.

Sometimes I go longer than that between watering and they still do well.

9. Protect your Bulbs from Being Eaten.

Sometimes squirrels or chipmunks will dig up bulbs and eat them.

Rarely do they eat daffodil bulbs but they love tulip bulbs.

Tulips put off an odor they like although the smell is undetectable to me.

If you are concerned about this, you can put a screen of some sort over your pots to prevent any critters from being able to get in.

I never do this and have rarely had a problem, but it can be an issue depending on where you live.

10. Keep your bulbs in 32-50 degree weather for 10-16 weeks.

Temperature is important with bulbs.

For the roots to develop at their best, most bulbs need about 6 weeks in temperatures between 32-50 degrees.

Tulips are an exception. Tulips need between 10-16 weeks for their roots to develop.

If the roots are well-developed, you can feel certain you will have a stunning display of blooms.

If the temperature drops below 32 degrees and your bulbs stay frozen for an extended amount of time, it may deter its ability to perform for you the next spring.

Or it may not sprout out at all.

To prevent your bulbs from freezing, you can keep your container in an unheated garage or shed throughout the winter.

If you are in Zone 7 like me, you can plant your bulbs in a container, leave them outside throughout winter without worry, and enjoy the blooms in spring. (So easy!)

Most of my containers have enough insulation to withstand our winters.

My only exception is my smaller clay pots.

I will bring them into my garage or shed when I know the temperatures are going to be below freezing for an extended amount of time.

Clay pots don’t offer as much insulation as my concrete planters do so, I tend to baby them a bit.

You can also choose to wrap some form of insulation around your pots if you are unable to move them.

Use bubble wrap or burlap or anything you have on hand.

11. Move your Container into the Sun When Temps Reach 50 Degrees.

When you start seeing 50-degree days, move any containers you stored in your garage or shed outside in the sun.

Fifty degrees means it’s time for the magic!

Your bulbs will start growing and it won’t take long.

If you have containers you left outside all winter, watch them because you are about to be rewarded for all your work.

The daffodils will burst forth first spreading their happiness everywhere.

Just about the time, your daffodils start to fade, your tulips will take over the show.

It will be stunning.

12. Leave the stalks until they are yellowing.

After the blooms fade, you will be tempted to just cut the greenery down.

Resist the urge if you want beautiful blooms the following year.

The greenery is taking in nutrients from the sun and storing them down under the soil into the bulb.

Isn’t that crazy?

If you give your bulbs time to feed off our glorious sun, they might return next spring in all their beauty.

You might want to move your container behind the shed or hide them away somewhere for this part.

Just be sure the containers are getting sun.

13. Store Bulbs for Planting Again Next Fall.

You can leave your bulbs in your container untouched and expect another show in the spring.

Tulips are less likely to make a return visit but your daffodils are pretty reliable.

I have had tulips in one container that have come back for 4 years.

That is rare but hey, it happens.

You might want to add another dose of fertilizer to the soil if you plan to leave them and give them a chance.

Or you can dig them up, cut off the now yellow or brown stems, and store the bulbs in a cool, dry place.

Make sure they have time to dry out.

Then put them in a brown paper bag and label them.

Next fall, plant them again.

Your daffodils are a pretty sure bet.

The tulips are a bit finicky so may not have enough energy to perform for another year.

 

 

Bulbs are SO EASY!

If all of the above steps overwhelm you, just put some potting soil in a container, put all the bulbs in, cover them up with potting soil, put them outside, and wait for spring.

They will most likely bloom!

Keep in mind, you are working with nature to grow tulips and daffodils together.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work, regardless of how careful you are.

Those times are rare though so go get yourself some bulbs and start planting!

Spring is coming!

FAQS

Can you plant tulip bulbs and daffodil bulbs together in a pot?

It is easy to plant tulip bulbs and daffodil bulbs together in a pot. Make sure your container has holes for drainage and that you use good-quality potting soil. Plant tulips at 5” deep and daffodils at 3” deep. Water and keep cold until spring.

For more details, scroll to the top.

When should I plant my tulip and daffodil bulbs?

Tulip and daffodil bulbs should be planted in the fall when temperatures at night begin to reach between 45-50 degrees. You can use this as a guideline to know when to plant your bulbs wherever you live.

I’m in zone 7 and always plant my tulip and daffodil bulbs in October whether I’m planting them in the ground or containers.

How long do my tulip and daffodil bulbs need to be cold to bloom well?

For the roots to develop at their best, daffodil bulbs need about 6 weeks in temperatures between 32-50 degrees. Tulip bulbs need between 10-16 weeks for their roots to develop. Good root development translates to the best blooms.

When Will My Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs Start Growing?

When temperatures reach above 50 degrees, your bulbs will begin to grow. It is truly like magic every spring. If you have them in your garage or shed, be sure to bring them outside in the sun. The sun will draw them on out and give them the nourishment they need.

How deep should I plant my tulip and daffodil bulbs?

Tulip bulbs should be planted between 5-6” deep. Avoid planting tulip bulbs too deep as they will fail to bloom. Err on the side of too shallow when planting tulip bulbs.

Daffodil bulbs should be planted between 3-6 inches deep. These bulbs are not finicky but will not bloom if planted too deep. Err on the side of too shallow to be certain they will bloom.

In a container or on the ground, you can layer the tulip and daffodil bulbs. Plant the tulips first, cover them with a bit of soil, then plant the daffodils bulbs on top. Cover with soil.

Scroll to the top for more details.

Tracy Crosland, owner of Hey Honeysuckle

Written by Tracy Crosland

I was born and raised in small town, Tennessee. As an adult, I found myself thrown into the construction business, building new homes in our little town. My son has now taken over the business, which means I do what I want - a lot of playing in my cottage flower garden (zone 7). I hope you feel the love in my garden and in my blogs and that we can be friends.

For more about me, click HERE.

I want to know more about you!

Follow me at all the sites below. (And when you do, please say “hello.” I’d love to hear from you!)

 

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden
(IN A WEEKEND!)

Cottage gardens make me happy!
I want you to be happy too…so this one’s on me.

  • Learn to create your first cottage garden with step-by-step instructions
  • A checklist to keep you on track
  • Images to inspire
  • Increase the value of your home by thousands
  • Explode your happiness quotient
  • Oh, yeah. It’s free! Free happiness.

I want to be happy! Give me the guide!

 

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

My Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Cottage Garden

Cottage gardens make me happy!
I want you to be happy too…so this one’s on me.

  • Learn to create your first cottage garden with step-by-step instructions
  • A checklist to keep you on track
  • Images to inspire
  • Increase the value of your home by thousands
  • Explode your happiness quotient
  • Oh, yeah. It’s free! Free happiness.