The Q&A Archives: Dormant Bulbs

Question: I haven't had a lot of success interplanting perennials with my bulbs so that I have coverage of dying bulb foliage. For this reason, I enjoy growing bulbs in containers so that after they bloom I can move them to an out of the way (outside) place to die down. My spring bulbs are completely dormant and I have placed them where they do not get watered. (I live near Seattle, WA where most folks think it rains non-stop. Truth is, we rarely get even one drop of rain between 4th of July and Labor Day. Not a drop!) My question is: should I water these pots containing the dormant bulbs occasionally or just leave them dry until the fall/winter rains return? I will bring the pots back to their places of honor in the spring in time to see them return in all their glory -- I Hope!

Dianne Brogden

Answer: Once the foliage has died down, the bulbs go into a resting phase. During this dormancy period they do not need water. You can store your bulbs in the containers - no water required - until regular fall-planting time, or you can dig and store them in a cool, dark place (again, no water required) until this fall when it's time to replant them. If you leave the bulbs in the pots, just move the pots out where they'll get natural rainfall and they will sprout and bloom on schedule for you.

I, too, have dozens of bulbs planted in pots which I place in prominent places when they're in bloom and then move to an out of the way place when they look shop-worn. I don't water all summer, but in October I do place them in a spot where they'll receive natural rainfall. They come back beautifully each spring. Every 3-4 years I unpot them (they can become crowded), and repot in fresh potting soil.

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