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Planting bulbs in layers for long-lasting spring colour

Martyn Cox

Planting spring bulbs in pots is a great way to add a dash of colour to smallest of gardens, but for maximum impact have a go at 'lasagne' planting bulbs in large containers for a succession of spring colour.

Colourful plant bulbs
Layer plant bulbs for a riot of spring colour

Despite its name this style of planting has nothing to do with pasta, but is so called because different bulbs are planted in layers, just like making the famous Italian dish. By choosing bulbs that flower at different times it is possible to create a display that will last all spring long.

What to grow

Most spring bulbs be can grown in a lasagna planting, but for the display to work you need to ensure that you pick three varieties that look good together and will give a succession of flowers that will last for several weeks. For a combination to provide interest from late winter to early May, try dwarf Iris reticulata, Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' and Tulipa 'Angelique', a double-flowered form with candy pink blooms. Alternatively try crocus with a mid-spring flowering tulip and Allium cristophii, whose spherical pink flower heads appear in late spring and continue to hold interest into early summer.

How to do it

Buy a large container (30cm diameter or more is ideal) then add a layer of compost or bulb fibre to the base. Put your biggest bulbs in first (if you were planting an iris, narcissus and tulip combination, the tulips would go on the bottom). They can be packed in quite closely, providing they don’t touch. Cover with a 5cm layer of compost, then add the narcissus. Cover as before and finish with a layer of iris – if you like, you could also add some grape hyacinths to this last layer. Top up with compost and water.


Protect bulbs in pots from foraging squirrels. Cover the top with a square of chicken wire and fold down the sides to keep in place. It may look ugly but will prevent them being nibbled and can be removed when growth appears in the spring. Other than this all you need to do is keep the compost moist and deadhead flowers as they start to fade to keep the display looking good.


Avon Bulbs -

Bloms Bulbs -

De Jager -

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