Growing Tulips in Pots for a Spring Display

 In George Irvine

As I mentioned last week, Tulips are most varied of all the Spring bulbs in terms of size, colour and shape and they are relatively easy to grow. While they are excellent for bringing lots of colour to the Spring borders along with other species of bulbs and Spring flowers such as primula, they are also ideal for growing in large tubs and containers and today we are going to look at how to get the best from your container-grown tulips.

If you are growing Tulips in pots they are best grown alone because they will not survive a typical Summer without being lifted and dried off after flowers have faded and died.  This is because Tulips must have dry rest period during their dormant period during the Summer months.

If you grow only Tulips in your containers you can leave them in the containers until they are ready to be brought back into growth next Autumn with the need to left them and dry them after flowers have faded.

So what do we need to do when planting Tulips in containers? Firstly try and choose a fairly deep pot or trough making sure that there are adequate drainage holes in the base of the vessel. Next you should add a few inches of ‘crock’ to the bottom of the containers and then add some good quality fresh multi-purpose compost leaving sufficient room to plant the new Tulip bulbs so that the tips of the bulbs will be about four times their height below the compost.

Thereafter fill the container with more compost to about an inch from the top. It is important to water the bulbs and don’t let the pots dry out or you may end up with stunted foliage and poor flowers. Equally do not have the compost soaking wet otherwise the bulbs may rot. When choosing the bulbs to grow in a container try to avoid flowers that grow to three and four feet high otherwise they can flop. The shorter species such as Darwin Tulips and Apricot Beauty and many of the rockery types.

It is advisable to lift the containers off the ground using pot feet – or even an couple of bricks – to aid drainage during the winter months. Keep an eye on the containers and should there be a period of drought you may have to water the compost to prevent frying out.

Brown Bin Collections Cease for the Winter.

Inverclyde Council have announced that their kerb-side collection of garden waste will cease from Monday 21st November until March. Last collections will take place during weeks commencing 7t or 14th November depending on which week is your normal collection day is made.

Garden waste can still be received at the Civic Amenity sites at Pottery Street , Greenock or Kirn Drive Gourock between 8am and 6pm daily. All you have to do is take your garden waste along in your car and dispose of it free of charge.

Stunning New Garden By the Sea.

It was during the judging of the gardens for this year’s Gardenfest that I came across this intriguing new garden displaying many innovative features. When I met the owner Lynne Williamson she let me in on the history of the garden which is attached to her new- build home within the Kip Village in Inverkip.

As with most new-build homes the gardens are left very much as a brown – field site and it is up to the new owners to transform it to their own liking. Lynne’s garden was established just five years ago and as the garden at her last home in Bridge of Weir was a rather large garden attached to a old Victorian house with lots of rockeries and grass she wanted something different at her new abode.

Her new garden at Inverkip is very close to the sea-front and therefore quite exposed to high winds – and sometimes gales – not to mention the salt spray. Indeed, this posed many problems.

Lynne gave the design and layout of the new garden much thought and eventually engaged the services of a landscape architect to come up with some novel ideas and after much dialogue between them the new garden began to take shape.

Lynne also has a fairly large dog which means that the garden has to be dog-friendly too and so she opted for a number of raised beds where she could plants a selection of shrubs which she considered would be idea for this aggressive site. A number of plants growing in pots grouped together give the garden an attractive and colourful scene. Plenty of lighting has also been incorporated which, in the evenings creates pleasant scenario when looking out from the conservatory and lounge windows.

One of the innovative features of the, which is Lynne’s own handiwork is the rope feature which I think is very much in keeping with the location. The rope, she purchased from the Marina,and the poles she bought locally and coupled with her own DIY skills makes the garden really standout.

Indeed, this is a stunning garden.

Leave the Mop Heads Over Winter.

One of the frequently asked questions I get asked at this time of year is concerning Hydrangea and whether or not they should be cut back before the  winter.

There are different kinds of Hydrangea – two common ones being the large Mop-head variety and the Lace cap. The lace cap kinds can have their faded blooms cut off but do not prune them down. The large mop-head types should have the spent flowers left on over the winter. These can be snipped off around March next year. Hydrangeas should not be hard pruned as next year’s flower buds will be snipped off you will get no flowers for three years.

Potting up Tender Herbs for the Winter.

While some herbs are pretty well hardy there are some such as Mint, Coriander and Chives which can lifted out of the soil and put into small pots which can be grown on at a sunny window sill over the Winter months. Ideal when you need some for those Winter warming stews and sauces.

November Welcomes Winter.

Now that Hallowe’en and Guy Fawkes Night are past and gone, there is not a lot of things happening ‘twixt now and Christmas, especially in terms of gardening.

However, when the weather is suitable there are still some tasks that can keep us busy outdoors apart from just gathering up all the fallen leaves from our lawns and paths and you can put these leaves into black bin bags, tie the bag and then punch a few holes in the bag before consigning the bag to an area out of sight – like behind a shed – and forget about the bag or bags for a year or two and you will have lots of leaf mould to use in the garden. It is all free of charge and is great for the garden.

This is also a good time to remove any deep rooted weeds such as Dandelions, Docks and Mares Tail from the garden. It is best to dig these out and then consign them to the bin – but not the brown bin.

Take a stroll round the garden and check out any tall growing plants and make sure that the stakes are firmly attached to the plant and ensure that any loose stakes are secured before winter gales arrive.

Lastly, pick up any fallen fruits that are lying on the ground. Do not attempt to use store any damaged fruits but dispose of them to the bin or leave some in an areas where the birds may be able to feast on them.

In the vegetable plot take a look at your sprout plants and make sure they are well supported and the soil around each plant is well firmed. Doing this will prevent the roots becoming loose in the ground as this often causes the sprouts to open prematurely and being ‘blown’ as we call the condition. Sprouts usually taste sweeter once they have had a touch of frost, so keep them growing until you need them for your Christmas dinner.

Storing Tools Away For the Winter.

It is very unlikely that you will be needing to use your garden tools during the next few months, especially if you have done all the digging to get the vegetable plot and the borders ready for Spring.

Let us begin with the lawnmower. Give all the working surfaces a good clean using a wire or stiff brush to remove any adhering grass or grime. If necessary use a damp cloth to finish cleaning all surfaces. If your mower is electric, I  advise that you inspect the cable and if you find any cuts or damaged parts, take the mower along to an authorised electrical contractor and have it replaced or repaired before use need to use it again in the Spring. Check the blades for signs of wear and tear and replace them if badly worn.

If your lawn mower is petrol driven drain any fuel from the tank and have the machine serviced by a qualified engineer or supplier. Before storing the mower away for the winter give all moving parts a light coating with oil.

Hand tools such as spades, forks and hoes should have any adhering soil or mud removed and the metal parts cleaned thoroughly before being coated with a film of light oil to prevent them rusting over the Winter. Do not forget the wooden handles – give them a clean and rub with some light oil like three-in- one.

When all this has been done you can safely consign your tools to the shed for forget about them for the next three months or so.

Port Glasgow Lady Brightens Up the Town Centre.

You do not often expect to see a colourful oasis in the middle of a town centre, except for maybe a few council laid flower beds. In this case however, the garden is the work of a ‘green fingered’ lady who lives in one of the adjacent tenement houses.

Tucked away behind the houses in Falconer Street in the centre of Port Glasgow, lies this little garden faithfully tended by Mrs Catherine Owen. Although mainly comprising of  a selection of tubs and hanging baskets Catherine has transformed this’ drying – green’ area into a sea of colour which many of the residents really love and enjoy. Let us all raise our glasses to Catherine for all her hard work. She certainly deserves it!

Where Should We Over-Winter Tender Plants.

There are many plants that we grow that are not frost hardy and we need to take steps to protect them over the Winter.

Some of the types of plant can be moved into an unheated green-house provided they will be happy as long as the temperature does not drop below about forty two degrees Fahrenheit.

But how do we know what the temperature is? The simple answer is to buy a thermometer – preferably what is known as a Maximum & Minimum Thermometer.. This will show the highest and lowest temperature and can readily be checked each day and reset. They do not cost a lot and are available from Cardwell Garden Centre. Buying one will safe you lots of money in lost plants.

Plants that will not survive temperatures as low as forty degrees are best taken indoors.



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