I've bought a pile of various tulip, hyacinth, narcis/daffodil, and iris bulbs and I want to plant them in in planter boxes and small pots if I can't fit them all in the box. The instructions on the packaging suggest 7, 10, and 15cm of space between the bulbs, but that doesn't work in a pot or box; this website however suggest planting them in clusters which I prefer more.

Is it ok to take the latter advice, or do they really need 7~15cm space in between to do well?

I live in Ireland which is pretty wet and humid, and the bulbs have already started sprouting outside the soil. I'm planning to keep the boxes out in the North facing balcony which will receive loads of rain depending on the weather!

Is this appropriate or shall I cover them to avoid receiving too much rain?

P.S. The bulbs I had taken out from pots last year were wrapped in brown papers sealed in a plastic bag left out in the balcony to get some cold, and I find out some mould on a few of the very tiny bulbs as they apparently have absorbed all the humidity even through the bag.

1 Answer 1


You can cut the measurement between the bulbs by up to half if you want to plant in clusters -even clump plantings require a bit of distance between bulbs. Just as important, though, is the depth at which you plant, and that should not be tinkered with, so ensure any box or pot you use has enough depth to plant whichever bulbs you choose to use.

As for keeping the rain off, assuming there's good drainage in the containers (which there should be, particularly for bulbs) and they're not standing in any outer tray which retains the water, it's not necessary.

If the bulbs with a little mould on the outside are still firm and healthy looking otherwise, you can still plant them, but if they're soft and soggy, put them in the bin.

UPDATED ANSWER - too many comments below! To sum up, sulphur dust is a good thing to use, and if you cut out the mouldy areas of the bulbs, you need to take as little as you possibly can or you'll compromise the bulb - it's only a storage organ containing enough feed for next year's flower, so cutting a little off is okay, but too much is not good. Even if a bulb goes mouldy in the soil, it doesn't usually affect others if they're in the open ground, but in pots, it may well do so.

  • Thank you Bamboo. Another helpful answer from you! (: The bulbs with a few mould spots on them were the fancier bulbs and I didn't dare to bin them! They're pretty hard and look fine, but the thing is, I was out of soil for a few days, so they were left in the room temperature, half-planted, and when I wanted to add the final layer of soil, I noticed there's more mold. I separated some of those bulbs to plant separately, but some are still mixed. Will this damage the rest? See the bulbs: s2.postimg.org/ox9bhmsl5/image.jpg s2.postimg.org/613mxsqpl/image.jpg
    – Neeku
    Nov 20, 2014 at 13:27
  • Yes, it might - you haven't said what the bulbs are, but if you want to still try to grow them, cut out the mouldy parts and then plant. This may or may not stop the fungal infection, and it may spread to other bulbs.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:08
  • Mainly tulips (various Dutch versions), and some Narcissus.
    – Neeku
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:11
  • I forgot to say, dusting the bulbs with sulphur powder after cutting the mould out should help. The trouble is, you've already planted some and the fungal spores may now be present in the planting medium.
    – Bamboo
    Nov 20, 2014 at 14:11
  • Yeah @Bamboo, and have been too busy/lazy to mess around with them again. Anything I could do now? I've planted them in clusters and I don't want a cluster fungal!
    – Neeku
    Nov 22, 2014 at 21:01

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