will bulbs still bloom if left unplanted over winter?

kokoverde723April 9, 2009

I was given a very large quantity (hundreds) of bulbs of various types at the end of last summer from a friend who worked at a nursery... I was moving at the time and didn't get the chance to plant them last autumn. They were left in their original packaging over the winter in my basement. I wanted to know if the bulbs will still grow, and if so, when should I plant them? I know little to nothing about bulb planting, so any information would be helpful. These are the types of bulbs I have:



Bearded Iris

Calla Lilly





Thank you in advance for any information and/or advice!

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You were given all these bulbs last summer......what a great friend you have....and how fortunate you were in protecting them.

All of the mentions...except sparaxis and ixia, which I;m not familiar with, should do well planted when your soil temperature says to plant them.

Zone 7 you say...pretty soon I'd say the soil temperature will be what will welcome these bulbs. The soil should be easy to work with and the bulbs planted deep, watered and given good drainage.
They are spring planted, summer flowering bulbs and you should think later to have to dig them up when temperatures go down.

Dahlia, for example, should be allowed to be hit with frost--killing their foliage but that is the time to dig up the corms and give them protection. Don't leave dahlia in the ground--even in your zone 7...they wont survive.
Whatever number of corms of dahlia you have now, when planted, and dug up next fall, there will be more of them.
With glads....dig them up before a hard frost.
Begonia, let them be hit with a frost that will kill their foliage--that's your cue to lift them, brush off their soil and let them dry for a time before putting them into storage.
Storage being any cool place that the bulbs and corms can be given where it is dark, and dry..and left alone--never to be given water or sun, or heat, until you wish to plant them next year.
Sometimes in storage, because they are put away with dampness, a fungicide is dusted over them to prevent mildew. Otherwise, leave them alone and they'll re-flower the next season.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 5:25PM
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hi there,

i saw this post and have been wondering the same thing, except that i have tulip, daffodil and muscari bulbs. they were all donated to our school so late in the season last fall that we couldn't get them in the ground, so they have been in my (detatched) garage all winter. i checked them and they have small sprouts and seem to be ok. will they still grow/bloom? if so, should we get them directly into the ground, or would pots be better? i hate to waste our time if nothing will happen, but i also hate to see them go to waste!

thanks for any advice on this!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 8:30PM
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gonegardening(7 VA)

emmgus, I once forgot some daffodil bulbs (left in a refrig drawer) and planted them out. They did not bloom that year...but they survived and have bloomed now for several years (and appear to be increasing). It may be worth your while (for next year...as these bulbs are perennial)to plant them if they are still viable...not damp, soft or mushy.

Well, let me amend that. It depends on the variety of tulips...whether they will perennialize for you.

kokoverde, glads overwinter here in my zone 7 and dahlias will in a protected site (I have dahlias coming up now that made it through a record cold January here...they are against the back of my home, however, and stay a bit warmer there.).

I have not had any luck overwintering calla lilies (outside); however, my neighbor has beautiful yellow ones with spotted leaves that come back every year on her hill (I call it her zone 8 microclime).

Angel wing begonias seem to hang around for me, but, in general, I would consider them to not be hardy.

I can't think of any phlox that grow from bulbs?

I believe sparaxis and ixia are both So. African bulbs, so I would think zone 8 or so...

Last year I dug a number of bags of bearded iris as I needed the space...they were left in the bags for some time...and one of my neighbors told me she still has some to plant. They still look better than the dried up ones you buy in the big box stores....so, I'm thinking they'll do okay, but might not bloom this year.

Good luck with everything!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 9:22PM
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EMMUGUS, contrary to what you said about receiving them late in the fall when it was too late to plant them...
they should have been planted....even if you have to remove the snow it would have been better to get them into the ground last fall.

Now, unless you store them in a refrigerator chances are those bulbs (except maybe the daffodil), are fodder for the compost pile. They wont store longer than 3 months.
Even the refrigerator wont keep them for a another 8 months.

As a school teacher or official, lift the pages on your calender to the months Octber/November/December....and write across them....bottom left to top right....

The longer they are out of the ground, the shorter time they will survive.

The bulbs in any sense then might be tried to be planted...like you have nothing to lose except time and effort. They might show something next spring...maybe a little foliage---maybe nothing.
Chances are they will never flower and might be fodder for squirrels and skunks and rabbits once they know there's a feast just under the soil.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 8:03PM
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hi again,

thanks gonegardening for your encouraging comments, they do still seem firm, i might try some of them and see what happens.

on the other hand, i'll say no thanks to jeannie7 for your lecture. i am not a school teacher or official, just a parent who donates way too much time already to trying to make the school my kids attend look a little nicer. obviously, i know they should have been planted in the fall, and i do not need to waste my time explaining to you why they weren't, besides what i already said above. i simply asked the question to see if anyone had ever tried planting out bulbs that had been kept cold all winter, and what might happen. helpful, friendly advice based on personal experience is what these forums are for. the scolding was not necessary.


1 Like    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:27PM
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So, how did it turn out? Did the grow?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 7:09PM
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What happened to your bulbs? I have a similar situation this year.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 2:27AM
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Campanula UK Z8

Like seed, as long as the bulbs are firm and healthy, they can be planted at any time of year. Like seeds, they are highly likely to make vegetative growth but, unless a certain size (maturity) has been reached, such bulbs are likely to be blind (non-flowering)......but as long as they are allowed to die back naturally, they will go on to flower next year. I have planted seeds in every month of the year - they have their own innate cycles (which we can mess about with, forcing and such) - left to their own, they will regulate their growth in perfect accord with the seasonal patterns.

1 Like    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:58PM
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