Plant spring bulbs in patio containers in autumn for a quick and easy splash of early colour

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Prepare the compost using three parts multi-purpose compost with one part horticultural grit. For longer-term displays swap multi-purpose compost with John Innes No 2, as I have done here

Mix three parts compost with one part horticultural grit

Mix three parts compost with one part horticultural grit

Fill the pot 1/3 full of the compost and grit mixture. Wear gloves if planting hyacinths as the bulbs can cause skin irritation.

Fill the pot 1/3 full of compost and grit.

Fill the pot 1/3 full of compost and grit.

Plant the bulbs at three times their depth and a bulb’s width apart. For a display of variety and mixed colour, plant more than one type of bulb in each container. Cover them with the remainder of the compost mixture.

Plant a mixture of bulbs for a varied display

Plant a mixture of bulbs for a varied display

Top dress the container with a layer of gravel. This looks attractive and also helps drainage. Place the container in a sheltered, frost-free position and wait for the bulbs to start shooting in spring.

Top-dressing with gravel looks attractive, helps drainage and deters weeds

Top-dressing with gravel looks attractive, helps drainage and deters weeds