Ask a Question forum: Spring Bulbs

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Name: Lindalee Stuckey
Glen Ellyn, IL (Zone 5a)
LindaleeS
Sep 7, 2013 10:36 AM CST
I got a bulb catalog and it shows bulbs planted in a big container. If I were to do this, do I have to keep the container inside in a crawl space? I live in zone 5. Would I have to keep it in the garage? Wouldn't the bulbs freeze during the winter?

Anyone have advice for me?
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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CindiKS
Sep 7, 2013 10:50 AM CST
Lindalee,
It depends on what kind of bulbs they are. If they are tulips, crocus, hyacinths, lilium, or daffodils, they are fine in the planter outside all winter. Some bulbs need a certain amount of time in freezing weather in order to bloom, so putting the pot in the garage might keep them from blooming, if your garage is heated.
The only issue with planting bulbs such as tulips in a planter is, if you leave them in there over the summer and plant other things in the pot, then they might get too much water and rot.
Hope that helps!
Cindi
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Claudia
Sep 7, 2013 12:02 PM CST
I have kept pots with lily bulbs out side and in my unheated garage. Outside I placed old blanket on top of the soil and then put the pot into a large trash bag and kept it on my covered porch. The point is to not let it get wet and freeze. In my garage I put my pots in large trash bags(mostly to keep rodents out) and about once a month give them just a very small amount of water...like a 1/4 cup. Again you don't want them to be too wet and rot or freeze. I do keep them close to the garage door to keep them as cool as possible.

I start checking them around March. They have usually started to sprout a little. As it warms up I put them out uncovered on nice days and back into the garage at night until it is dipping below freezing.
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[Last edited by Claudia - Sep 7, 2013 3:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Sep 7, 2013 7:07 PM CST
I did daffodils and tulips last year. I kept my containers in my unheated shed. Garden Gate Magazine had an article about this early this year
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Sep 9, 2013 5:22 AM CST
As long as the bulbs are hardy for your area, most will be just fine outdoors in a container. They can freeze solid. The squirrels dig mine and replant them just below the soil surface, so I know they have to freeze. One set of tulips is exceptionally noteworthy: squirrels replanted 'Miranda' tulips just below the soil surface and they've been blooming wonderfully and increasing very well in the several years since. Smiling

Make certain that the soil in the container has good drainage so that they don't rot.

Also, I'd be cautious about storing in an area where they might get too dry. I think the only potted bulbs I've lost were forgotten in a *safe* place and dried out after they started growing.

What type of container were you planning on using? Grow pots, or something else?
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Sep 9, 2013 8:13 AM CST
chelle said:As long as the bulbs are hardy for your area, most will be just fine outdoors in a container. They can freeze solid.


There is a whole lot more to this than meets the eye. Thinking of exposed container growing over the winter as needing to tolerate a full climate zone colder than your area would be more accurate, but still not the end all. Most spring bulbs* sold are cold hardy to zone 4(or colder), so for chelle and others in zone 5 or warmer, her statement probably holds true for the most part. But as a blanket statement for everywhere (including colder regions), not so.

For cold hardy bulbs, there is a huge difference between below 32F and frozen. In other words, just because the temperature is below 32F does not automatically mean the bulb is frozen. Spring bulbs will not freeze at 31F. (Remember, water freezes at 32F, but other substances and mixtures have their own unique temperatures at which freezing occurs.**) If a person thinks of a bulb as one homogeneous solid mass, pardon my bluntness, but he are wrong. All spring bulbs are composed of parts that can freeze over the winter without damage, and parts that cannot. These parts that cannot freeze have a much lower freezing temperature due to various anti-freezing techniques. Thus, freezing does not occur until somewhere below 0-25F, depending on the species. If the parts that should not freeze actually do, this is where death from freezing occurs.


*Spring bulbs are planted in the fall for spring bloom. Summer bulbs are planted in the spring for summer bloom.
**For instance, when you salt your icy sidewalk, the ice melts even though the temperature remains the same. This is because the new melting point of the new mixture of salt and water is now lower than the ambient temperature.
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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CindiKS
Sep 9, 2013 8:13 AM CST
I've had the same experience as Chelle. Bulbs here freeze and thaw, and they grow fine. Are you concerned about the pot itself freezing and breaking? I've had that happen to some clay pots, ugh. I've switched to plastic pots so I don't have to drag them in or cover them. If the pot doesn't drain well, and your weather is above freezing, THEN you might have an issue with rot. Use good soil and make sure the pot has holes in the bottom.
Our winters are so dry, most years, that I have to water plants. Yep, that means take out the hoses, water, drain the hoses, put them away. Evergreens particularly need that water. LAst winter, we had lots of rain and snow, and the bulbs came through without issues.
I had one bag of tulips that I purchased on clearance in December that I didnt' get planted. It sat outside in the rain and snow. Come spring, there were green shoots coming out of that bag. A couple of the bulbs were rotted, and boy did they stink...but the rest actually grew and bloomed once I finally got them into soil! Just like Chelle, though, I have lost bulbs by forgetting them in the garage over the winter where they dried out.

What matters most, though, is What Kind of bulbs are you talking about? That will make a huge difference.
Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
[Last edited by CindiKS - Sep 9, 2013 8:35 AM (+)]
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Name: Lindalee Stuckey
Glen Ellyn, IL (Zone 5a)
LindaleeS
Sep 9, 2013 9:30 AM CST
I was thinking about daffodils, tulips and hyacinth. I have 5 plastic pots that I grew annuals in this year because I had a workman coming to do the porch and I didn't want to put anything in the ground So with pots I could move them out of the way. Thanks for all the great suggestions. I never did bulbs before. I generally have a summer garden but now that I am retired from teaching, I am trying to expand to spring and fall flowers. Daffodils are my favorite spring flower but the fancy parrot tulips look very interesting.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Sep 9, 2013 10:03 AM CST
The container of bulbs that I did and did NOT put in the shed just turned to mush. At least in my zone it is not the same as having them in the ground. BTW I had daffodils and tulips.

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