Bulb planting space in container

Brisbane, CA(Zone 10b)

I am confused about how much space to put between spring bulbs. Why does it make a difference between in-ground and container planting?The layering of bulbs in container packs so many bulbs, it clearly violates the suggested planting space for individual plants. What would happen if I plant them closer than recommended? Last fall I planted lily bulbs close together in pots, as suggested by a nursery how-to video. They didn't perform well at all. I then read that lily bulbs are different than other spring/summer bulbs that they don't go dormant. This time I am giving lily bulbs a lot more space. For the other bulbs though, Is it OK to plant spring bulbs close in pots then in the ground? How close?
Thanks in advance for your advice.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I think in pots it is spaced closer, one to make it fill the pot and two it assumes you can and will easily redo the pot so as the bulbs multiply its no big deal, and three assumes more attention to water. Might also be assuming the container is a one year thing. Bulbs in ground are expected to stay a few years; daffodils and some others multiply quickly so you don't want to cram them together at first.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

The info given to you about different planting distances between pots / containers and garden soil is correct.
However, Garden measurements are normally given for planting in a Border or bed, therefore, because bulbs each year make offset (more little bulbs) IF you planted the bulbs too close, you would almost be lifting and separation the clumps of bulbs every year, (NOT too good to disturb every season) by planting them several inches apart, your preventing this work every season AND allowing the bulbs to grow to maturity, giving better flowers and also more able to withstand SOME diseases or infestation because they have been allowed to settle into a more productive environment.

Bulbs planted in containers are NORMALLY removed from the container after flowering (I know some people say"Oh I've had my bulbs in the pot / container for years) so have I BUT, the breaders who grow the bulbs grow them to be pot grown no more than I-2 years then removed and set out in the garden borders, most bulbs that can grow outside are done so we can enjoy these flowers indoors, on the porch or windowsill etc, then put outside to grow in border / beds. therefore they don't require so much space due to the time in pot / container.

As a rule, all outdoor bulbs for borders / beds ect need to be planted 3 times the size of bulb, so say tulip bulb is 1 inch from root end to tip, then it needs planting 3 inches deep, if it's inch wide around the fattest part, it needs 3 inches between each bulb. Ist pulb would be planted into the soil next bulb 3 inches away, next bulb 3 inches apart too and 3 inches deep.
A Large Lily bulb 4-5 inched from root to tip needs 12-15 inches deep and distance apart as for the tulips. For planting in container or pot, same depth but for distance, just make sure they are NOT touching and 2 years later empty the pot and replant in border or space out again in the pot's.
Hope this helps you out and less confusing for you.
Best of luck. WeeNel.

Brisbane, CA(Zone 10b)

Thank you Sallyg, WeeNel for the explanation. I have limited ground space, so many of my plants have to live in pots permanently. I guess when they out grow their home, I'll need to thin them somehow. Some of the spring bulbs come in packages of 10 or 25. Glad to know I can plant them closer in pot than recommended!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

BrisbaneAnne, most bulbs growing in pots need to be removed from the pot, throw away the old soil and check out all the bulbs to make sure there are no rotten ones with soft tissues or damage, once they are separated and your happy the bulbs are healthy, you just replant them as before but IF the bulbs have got larger, just make another pot as they wont all fit into the previous pot. All bulbs grown in pots use up the nutrients in the compost / Soil while in pots as they are watered almost weekly and that leeches out any goodness from the soil too, so re-potting in fresh compost / soil is a great way of giving the bulbs a good spring clean and feed and they can stay in these pots for another 2-3 years.

Hope this helps you out and you feel at ease a bit more about the pot growing methos with bulbs.
Best Regards.

Brisbane, CA(Zone 10b)

Got it. Thank you WeeNel!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

No problem Anne, it's daunting when we are trying to get it all right but confidence dictates we need to make sure we don't kill the darn bulbs off, just relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour and know if you loose a few bulbs it aint the end of the world.
Have fun and enjoy.
Best Regards, WeeNel.

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