Spring Bulbs & Containers – How to Mix & Match

Bulb pots herald spring like no other and at this time of year this time of year you might be able to find some bulbs that are ready for forcing.  Bulbs require a cold cycle or a dormant period (depending on the bulb) to ready themselves for blooming.  So if you didn’t order and keep some interesting bulbs from last year in your refrigerator (and who is actually that organized and in possession of  spare refrigeration?)  then you need to seek out some “forced” or as trade people call them “pre-finished” bulbs.

The ‘forced’ selection is generally not so great, but you can usually get a couple simple colored tulips, grape hyacinths, hyacinths, and daffodils and then dress them up with some interesting container selections.   I chose these pots from a search for ‘vintage containers’ on ebay …. some are still available if you want to buy them.  I’m using them to share with you some of my thoughts about how to choose the right container for the bulb or flower to make a great design statement.

Primary with Primary, Simple with Simple

red tulips and antique pot

This Vintage Devon-Motto-Ware-Small-Pot has a simple folkish charm that I think pairs well with the red tulips.  For me, these jive because of a similar level of simplicity and the basic  primary colors in the container relate to the primary red.

Pink on Pink – Color Match

pink tulips and antique pot

Alternatively, you can go matching.  Here, the pink tulips  are a precise match for this vintage Japanese rose planter.

Tell a Story

green amaryllis and ebay container

Amaryllis can still be available even though many people consider them holiday flowers.  I have kept about half of my amaryllis in my cool back porch for the winter and as the days are lengthening and the room is warming, they are starting to grow, so for me they will be spring bloomers.  Some containers tell a story and your flower selection can complete the tale.  This elephant and little boy seemed to need a tree to sit under and the tall green ‘dragon’ amaryllis seems to give a perfect palm tree vibe.

Match Tones, Match Boldness

yellow daffodils and copper pot

I paired golden yellow daffodils en masse in a copper kettle pot because I think such a bold and weighty container needs a bold flower.  Also, I think that it is nice when you can match tones – warm yellow flowers with warm honey toned copper.

Help a Plant Out & Create Classic Combos

white pedestal container and grape hyacinth

And finally, this vintage Lenwile Ardalt planter holds grape hyacinths. Grape Hyacinths are among the smallest and shortest bulbs and so a container that elevates them to a better viewing angle is a nice paring.  Also, white and blue is a classic combo for dinner settings and this classic look seems perfect for a tablescape.

All of these forced bulbs (except for the amaryllis) can be bought right now from American Meadows.

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

1 Comment

  1. Nell Jean on March 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I forced no bulbs this past season. Your photos remind me that next year I must, again. Hyacinths are my favorite, one to a coffee mug or several in a larger bowl.

    You didn’t mention whether you toss spent bulbs or not. I find they recover very well when planted out in the garden when the blossoms fade.

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