Instant Miniature Bulb Garden

Create a bulb garden in 30 minutes, enjoy until spring!
Ellen Ruoff Riley

Begin with a container. Plant an array of bulbs in layers now, and flowers will appear at intervals throughout spring. Think of the tiny irises as appetizers to the season, followed by the grape hyacinths. Next, delight in miniature narcissus. Build up to a feast of large daffodils. Then, as the icing on the cake, finish with a topping of violas that bloom from fall through late spring. The best part is that prep time takes less than 30 minutes.

Choose a Pot
The key is having a large, clear drainage hole. The best pot for you depends on what you plan to grow.

  • A tall, deep pot with a top diameter of at least 12 inches is suitable for growing large bulbs, such as 'Dutch Master' daffodils, and for planting multiple layers of bulbs.
  • A wide, low saucer works well with small bulbs, such as petite irises (Iris reticulata), grape hyacinths (Muscari sp.), and miniature narcissus such as 'Tête-à-Tête' and 'Baby Moon.'

Recipe for Success
Potting soil is essential; do not use garden dirt in a container.

  • Sprinkle several inches of potting mix in the container bottom.
  • Place the largest bulbs in the bottom, at the depth listed in the planting instructions on the package. Don't allow the bulbs to touch each other.
  • Add more soil until you've covered the bulbs and reached the depth where the second layer should be. Place bulbs as you did before, and cover with soil. Continue until all bulbs are in place.
  • Plant violas on top. Add a granular, timed-release fertilizer to this upper layer only.

Simple Maintenance
After planting, add water until it flows out of the pot's bottom. During dry spells, add moisture as the violas require it. Soak the pot well to keep the bulbs at the bottom hydrated.

After the first flowers finish in spring, cut off spent blooms. Leave the foliage alone, and the next round of bulbs will bloom up through it. When the show concludes in late spring, empty the pot, and plant the bulbs in your garden for years of enjoyment.


"Instant Miniature Bulb Garden" is from the November 2005 issue of Southern Living.