1. Identify bulbs that will be most suitable for pot culture and purchase. Also purchase bulbs that are not at all suitable for forcing just for fun. Accumulate huge pile of bulbs in inconvenient spot.
2. Identify pots. Try to choose more lightweight pots, where possible. Buy pots on sale. Shake head over number of ugly pots you have accumulated over the years.
3. Evaluate soil situation. Is soil leftover from summer annuals in pots still Ok to use? If not, or if there is not enough, purchase large bags of potting mix. Avoid expensive mixes that contain fertilizer or are labeled “organic”; find cheap, lightweight mixes.
4. Option: place empty plastic pots upside down in containers to take up space and make them lighter. Some recommend packing peanuts at bottom of pot.
5. Fill empty pots a bit more than halfway; remove excess from pots that already have enough leftover soil. Find and discard old bulbs from last year and root masses from annuals.
6. Place bulbs—about 20-25 per container in circular patterns. Layer daffodils on top of tulips, if you want a mix. Try to alternate contrasting tulip colors; lose track and give up.
7. Cover top 1/3-1/2 of pot with soil.
8. Extra step—place a round tomato/peony support at top of pot as a deterrent to squirrels. Disguise with soil. Water pots. (Oops—should have watered after moving them to the garage.)
9. Drag pots into the garage. (Water them now—much better.)
10. Ignore for 5 months, occasionally wondering—when getting in and out of car—if they are completely frozen. They look frozen. They feel frozen.
11. Water them again in late March to wake them up.
12. Drag out the pots in early April. Water. Wait for bloom. Discover that the contrasting colors you chose really don’t complement each other as much as you thought. Realize that whatever you do, one type of tulip always blooms before the other type. Think about tulips you should have planted instead of these. But hey—they came up!