Question: I live in Zone 4. I planted about 30 tulip and 30 daffodil bulbs in two whiskey-type wooden barrels last fall. They are on the south side of the house and receive full sun all day. Could you tell me why only four bulbs have grown above the soil? Does the barrel not protect them enough? I'm wondering if those barrels are only for annual flowers?
P.S. I have some pieces of styrofoam in the bottom of the barrels so they are not so heavy if I wanted to move them; I also fertilize. ??? Any ideas what I did wrong, please let me know.

Answer: I suspect that the soil volume in the barrels is too small, and so it froze solid during the winter and ruined the bulbs. A southern exposure can make the soil more likely to freeze and thaw as temperatures oscillate in the spring, this is very stressful on bulbs. Another possible problem is that it dried out last fall while the bulbs were trying to root. Or, it may be that some of the bulbs were planted deeper than others, the deeper ones will come up later than the others. Another possibility is that squirrels or mice ate them or moved them. You could dig down gently and cautiously and see if more are on the way to coming up, or what their condition is. In my experience, it is usually better to plant annuals in containers, even very large ones, rather than try to overwinter bulbs or perennials in them. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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