Pots of colour
The highlight in May is the Tulip Festival at Morton Hall. Whilst the
most elaborate and intricate displays are in our borders, pots also
provide interest and colour in the Kitchen Garden and West Garden.
The first factor to consider when planting tulips in pots is the type
and size of pot that the tulips will be grown in. In the Kitchen Garden
we use a mixture of different sized classic terracotta pots that are
arranged in groups with smaller pots in front of larger pots. In the
West Garden, tulips are planted in a stone trough and modern, tall,
Tulips come in a kaleidoscope of different colours, but flower shape
also plays an important role in distinguishing different tulip
varieties. There are 6 main flower shapes: single-flowered,
double-flowered, lily-flowered, fringed, parrot and viridiflora tulips.
There are also a few varieties with multiple flowers per stem, most of
them in the ‘Club’ series. Each flower shape has a distinct set of
characteristics and adds a unique and individual quality to the pot
The overall height that the tulip flowers at is another factor to
consider when selecting tulip varieties for pots. Taller varieties such
as ‘Rhapsody of Smiles’ are best planted in a larger pot which provide
greater stability for the flowers. In the Kitchen Garden, those are
placed behind pots with smaller varieties.
When planting out tulips in pots we usually plant two varieties in each pot that complement one another and therefore flower colour is very important. In the Kitchen Garden we use vibrant oranges and reds with darker purples and pinks which complement each other well and link with the sunset and sunrise borders either side of the Kitchen Garden. Due to the south-facing aspect of the Kitchen Garden, the tulips grown in pots usually flower a little earlier than the tulips grown in the beds making a colourful introduction for what is to come. There is also the option to plant mid-season varieties in north-facing and late-flowering varieties in south-facing locations to synchronise the display.
Growing in pots is a very versatile way of growing tulips as each pot can be moved and grouped together accordingly, meaning that there is always a colourful display in the month of May.
As tulips come up in the pots, it is important to water them!