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Past Articles Library | Double Plant Bulbs

Double Plant Your Bulbs
For Maximum Splendor!

Your containers will look like they came from a garden show exhibit

One of the best things about bulbs is that they give us a stunning display of color in the dead of winter. Plus if you get them started early enough, and have staggered your plantings, you can have flowering bulbs in your home from January all the way until spring.

That said however, one of the most common questions asked is, "I love bulbs indoors, but how do I get my pots to look full and gorgeous like a flower show exhibitor's - they always get so much color in just one container - how do they do that?"

Well we have the answer to that question, and this month we are going to show you exactly how flower show exhibitors get so many tulips and daffodils to flower in one container.

The secret is that they plant bulbs on top of each other. The reason award winners' pots look so packed with flowers is because they ARE packed with flowers!

So follow the few steps below and this winter you'll have containers that are litterally bursting with color!

Getting Started With Proper Soil Mix

According to many award-winning flower show exhibitors, the best way to start your bulbs off is to have a good potting mix.

Here's a recipe that top bulb growers and exhibitors use:

  • 2 parts good garden compost
  • 2 parts regular potting mix
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part course sand

Of course if you don't want to make your own mix and you'd rather use regular potting soil that's fine too; you'll still get great results.

Use good potting soil:

Bulbs That Work Best

The best bulbs to use with this planting technique are:

1. Tulips

2. Daffodils

3. Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata)

It's not normally recommended to double plant hyacinth because they tend to push each other out of the soil.

Healthy tulip bulb:

Cold Treatment

Don't forget that any time you're working with spring-flowering bulbs, they will need some cold treatment. So there are two options for you:

1. You can give the bulbs their cold treatment BEFORE you plant them up.

2. You can plant the bulbs up and then give the ENTIRE container its cold treatment.

Note: If you need more help with how to give bulbs cold treatments, read our past article that gives detailed step-by-step instructions along with pictures and professional tips:
Confidently Forcing Bulbs - The Best Ever!

Give bulbs cold treatment either before or after
potting up:

How To Double Plant Bulbs

  1. Choose a pot that is deep enough to accommodate two layers of bulbs. For this article we are using a container that is 7 inches (17.5 cm) deep and 9 inches (22.5 cm) wide. The container can be plastic, terra cotta, or ceramic, it really doesn't matter. Use what is convenient for you.

  2. Purchase quality bulbs and purchase enough for two layers. For this article we are using 11 tulip bulbs.

    Note: If you don't know how to buy or choose quality bulbs, read our past article: Confidently Forcing Bulbs - The Best Ever! for pictures and information how to do this.

  3. Depending on the size of your bulbs, fill the bottom one-third to one-half of your pot with potting mix.

  4. Put in your first layer of bulbs, pointed side up, and not quite touching each other. In our first layer we planted 5 bulbs.

  5. Add more potting mix until the tops of the bulbs just poke through the surface.

  6. Put your second layer of bulbs in between the tops of the first layer. In our second layer we planted 6 bulbs.

  7. Add your last layer of potting mix until you can barely see the tops of the bulbs sticking through.

  8. Make sure to leave enough room at the top so you can water the soil in.

  9. Water them in.

At this point you are done! If you have opted to plant the container first and then give the bulbs their cold treatment, you need to do that.

If your bulbs have already been given their necessary hours of cold treatment, then put the container in a warm sunny location so they can start to grow. Remember to keep the soil moist, but not wet, and in 3 or 4 weeks flowers will appear.

Choose a large
enough container:

Fill container one-third
to one-half full:

Put in first layer of bulbs:

Add potting mix until tops
just poke through:

Add second layer of bulbs
in between the tops of
the first layer:

Add last layer of potting mix. Tops should just poke through:


If you want full, stunning, and show-stopping containers of bulbs this year, now you know how to do it. In fact, I've seen people use this same technique out in the garden, so there is no reason not to try double planting there as well.

It's an easy way to get out-of-the-ordinary results and it will increase your enjoyment of your bulbs ten fold because the color will be so lush!

The writer is a member of the National Garden Writers Association, a nationally published writer, and a certified organic grower. She regularly speaks and writes about all gardening related topics, with an emphasis on making gardening a successful and enjoyable process for anyone who wants to learn. Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine concentrates of giving detailed gardening tips and gardening advice to all levels of gardeners.

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