planting tulips in pots

roxanna(z5b MA)September 30, 2009

Can tulips be planted in containers (2 ft diameter, 18 inches tall) in zone 5 (Massachusetts)and survive the winter outdoors? I am running out of room for the "Blushing Beauty" bulbs in my gardens, as I inadvertantly bought (online) 130 of them! [I won't even mention the 400+ daffodils I have yet to come....]

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Maryl zone 7a

The thought of potting that many bulbs by myself makes me cringe. But if you succeed how beautiful will that be.... Well, I pass this on to you because it may be relevant to your question even though we are in different zones. I called Brent & Becky Bulbs with just that question about Tulips; "Can I pot up tulips and overwinter them outside for next spring". Again, the answer he gave was geared towards a warmer zone, but the method is contained on BB's website under the subtitle "lectures". You will have to do a little searching as I don't have time to look it up for you, but under the Lectures subtitle I think it was the lecture about living arrangements or something like that.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 12:52AM
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I'm in Kansas but a couple of years ago I got tulip bulbs too late to plant because the ground was frozen. So I put them in a brown paper bag and stuck them in my crisper until early spring. I planted them and they actually bloomed, a little later then the rest but hey it worked.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 3:21AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

à¹Aotner choice is to pot them up and bury them pot and all in the garden. Dig them up in spring and set them wherever you want.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 11:08PM
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I was told that they will freeze in the containers if left outside (they will not stay as warm as they would in the ground.) I am also in zone 5 and planted them in pots, and am keeping them in my attached garage. I'm hoping it will work, as I planted over 100 tulips too :)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 2:01PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

'Blushing Beauty' Tulips are supposed to be hardy to z.3, which is two zones hardier than your z.5. This seems to be the recommendation for planting perennials, shrubs or bulbs in containers to have them overwinter. Drainage is a very important factor in overwintering, so extra perlite, gravel or course sand in the container is a good precaution. Even so, it seems to be a a bit of a gamble to get fall bulbs to overwinter outdoors in conainers in z.5 or colder. Some people have succeeded and others have failed. Because your containers are so large, you might be successful, where others have failed due to using much smaller ones.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 7:47PM
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I planted about a dozen tulip bulbs in pots last year. Three of them came up in the spring and they were beautiful. However, the others either didn't come up or sprouted too early and died. I planted them on a rainy and snowy Halloween weekend and thought that was late enough in the season. It then got unseasonably warm and many sprouted 2-3 weeks later. When they got to be about 3 inches tall, the cold weather came back.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 9:02PM
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roxanna(z5b MA)

thanks, everyone, for the replies. since i had a major senior moment last april when ordering my fall bulbs, and placed one order, forgot about it and placed another order, i have enough tulips (130) to experiment using some in the containers. [we shall NOT discuss the remaining 450 daffodil bulbs that will soon be arriving with those tulips... LOL]

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 9:47AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

Thanks for asking this question! I have a similar question too, and I found this thread after doing a search...

I am also trying to plant tulips in a container and I am in zone 5b too. I did plan to leave the container in my unheated but insulated garage. My question is, my garage usually stays in the 40's during winter. Is that too warm for the container with tulips? I doubt that my container with tulip bulbs will do well outside on my deck, so my only option pretty much is the garage. I would appreciate your advice on this! Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 11:59PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Around 40 degrees F. should be OK to overwinter most bulbs such as tulips or narcissus. If one is forcing bulbs in order to have them bloom indoors, that is the temperature they should be kept at during their chilling period.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 12:41AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

ontnative, thank you so much for the answer!

In general, is it better to put the tulip bulbs in the pot now, leave it in the unheated garage, or just put the bulbs in the refrigerator and plant them in spring? Which is a preferable methods so that they will bloom better?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2009 at 10:52AM
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I'd love the answer to that too! Although, mine are already planted in containers in my garage. A total experiment... I will admit that even though I'm expecting the worst and hoping for the best I will be heartbroken if they don't bloom this Spring :(

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 8:31AM
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How often do you water those containers in the garage - weekly - keeping them moist? thank


    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 10:51PM
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Well, I can now answer that---since I did overwinter my tulip bulbs in my attached garage, and they are sprouting up this week. I planted several in long plastic liners (for my window boxes) and some more in terracotta pots. The ones in the liners are sprouting--they are a bit more shallow than the pots. Hopefully the ones in pots will follow shortly. After reading a lot of advice, I watered sparingly---once a month, to prevent rotting. Just wanted to give zone 5'ers hope... They did not freeze in the garage as I had feared :)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 6:44PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Thanks for the watering information Joanne. So many ask about that.

Hope you have a gorgeous display!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 12:15AM
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elizh(z5/6 MA)

I found the Brent & Becky's link. I have lots of trouble getting tulips to repeat (rodents, poor drainiage) so I was thinking of buying just a few this fall for pots. I was planning to keep them in the basement (50 degrees at bench level) but it seems like this might be too warm. Other locations might not be safe from rodents. Hmmm. I could tell my husband that I need a utility sink AND a walk in fridge?? (-;

Here is a link that might be useful: BB bulb forcing guide

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:03PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Don't be polite about the pot size, IMO, particularly for tall-growing tulips such as parrots. 12" or more - and add sharp grit (NOT sand) to the mix. Nothing finer than one sixteenth.

If you think the mousies will still invade the pots looking for feasts, first cover the holes with metal screen mesh. The water can still drain and the air can still pass through but the rodents have a tougher time. And stand the pots on either big pebbles or pot feet to help with drainage.

Me 'n' the Darwins aren't good for repeats but definitely the parrots, Spring Green, early Doubles, and the little greigii/kauffmannii are all good for several seasons in this zone 9. And several off the species or species crosses. They're not huge botanical garden show-offs but they have their charm and persistence.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:37PM
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I am curious to know the results of overwintering your bulbs in pots. I am in zone 5 and have so many rodents that I don't dare plant them to the ground. Tulips are my favorite & I have about 100 bulbs to plant in pots. I have an unheated garage & I would leave the pots in there til spring. The bulbs are in my spare fridge so when should I get them in the dirt? Now or can I wait til Jan?


    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 9:58AM
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