Need advice: To overwinter or not to overwinter

joannembOctober 18, 2009

That is the question.

My husband made me 3 beautiful window box type planters for my front porch, and I would love to fill them with white tulips come Spring. I planted about 100 tulips in plastic liners about 3 weeks ago and have them sitting in my attached garage. Now, I'm reading what an absolute risk it is and I am wondering, should I just put them in the refrigerator in a paper bag until March and plant them then? I watered them heavily when I planted them, but haven't re-watered yet.... Read that I should water once a month, so was going to give them another week. Is there any harm in taking them out of the dirt and putting them in the fridge? Or should I just leave well enough alone and hope for the best? Thanks so much for your input

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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

Well I am in Zone 5 and I always put my tulips out in the fall. I thought the only reason you don't put them in the ground in the fall was if you don't get freezing weather to chill them?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 11:08AM
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I was told that if I was planting them in planters (they are large 5' long wooden window box style rectangular planters) that I could NOT leave them outside during the winter because they would freeze (since they are not in the ground.) That is why I have them in the attached garage... less chance of them freezing in the containers. Is this correct?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 12:18PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

With your planters - it's probably more about how wide they are and how deep.

If they were to be sheltered under a good blanket of snow which would give vital insulation then outdoors might be safe. So long as the bulbs were fairly deeply planted and had about the same depth around and below them as they have over the top.

It would be the frosts that would worry me, particularly a long and deep into the ground freeze.

Does wrapping with some sort of insulating material provide enough protection in an unheated garage in your zone?

Just a thought: before you water again - check from the bottom of the container. As the weather cools, and if there are no leaves to pump water, it can take a very long time - even months - before the mix becomes truly dry. Watering by the calendar instead of by the pot conditions can be a bit of a hazard sometimes.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 5:35AM
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just my zone 5 2 cents worth of experience.
Bought some cheap tulips bulbs in the fall and planted them in a large pot with drain holes- probably a 5 gallon pot if not more.

They were covered in snow and then late winter we had a spring-like day or two and 3 popped up a sprout, then we had more winter weather... then real spring came and I had nothing but rotten bulbs in the pot. Never saw a single bloom.

This year I put my new cheap tulip bulbs in the ground.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2009 at 8:56PM
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Bulbs in the North can't tolerate the extreme cold they get in exposed, above-ground pots. To force them in pots, you either need to dig a nice pit, sink the pots, and cover with leaves and dirt (add some mouse poison if rodents might eat the bulbs), OR you need to force them in a cold but non-freezing indoor place like your refrigerator.

Potted bulbs left outdoors above-ground freeze and die in my area, Michigan.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 9:58AM
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