Bulbs in a planter

rouge21_gw(5)October 31, 2012

So this month's issue of "Fine Gardening" had an short article on planting bulbs in a container to be then put away for the winter in an unheated garage. Given my frustration with squirrels and deer with any tulips in the garden I thought this might be a good way to finally have some tulips next spring.

So I went ahead and prepared such a pot just yesterday.

Have you guys done similarly?

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roxanna(z5b MA)

yes, i have! it seems every year lately i am less and less enthused to plant bulbs out in the gardens, but i still want the beauty of them come spring, LOL.

this year, i have potted up at least a dozen large containers with tulips and others with daffodils. i have a stone wall by my front walk where i place them on top when i bring them out of the garage after winter is over. it works well, especially as i do not have to dig in the gardens -- it is either too chilly, or i run out of room or i am always hitting previously planted bulbs and destroying a perfectly good bulb or three. grrrr.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:08PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

"a dozen planters"....wow roxanna!

And here I was excited of my one container with 14 tulip bulbs within.

So what does one do with all these planters (dirt and bulbs) after flowering?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:16PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I have two questions about bulbs in pots. #1 Do you layer your bulbs to get a very full effect at blooming time? #2 Do you plant more than one type of bulb in a pot? So far, my own answers to these questions have both been NO. However, after reading Art Wolk's book on Bulb Forcing, I am very tempted to try these techniques. Only problem is that I have to buy more bulbs if I want to try it this fall.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:20PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

It is my understanding that "forcing bulbs" is different than "potting up bulbs".

For my one and only pot I planted 14 bulbs in a single layer well below the surface of the potting soil; watered it all and then put it in my unheated garage with the expectation that they will begin to grow in the spring very much mimicking traditional in ground planting.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 7:27PM
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rigelcaj(z5 VT)

I've been tempted to do this, but have never tried it. If you water them well when you plant them, are you done watering til spring? The outside bulbs are watered with snow and rain throughout the winter, so I always hesitated.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 12:10PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

rigelcaj, if keep potted bulbs (or any plants) in your unheated garage for the winter, you need to check them periodically, and water when the pots seem very dry. It's not a big deal. Just don't overdo it or the plants/bulbs might rot. As you said, one is trying to mimic outdoor conditions where snow and/or rain falls on the containers.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 8:36AM
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davidinsf

(I'm usually on the dahlia forum but I plant EVERYTHING in my yard)

Q: What do you do with the pots after flowering?

Short answer: ANNUALS

I am lucky enough with the weather to leave all bulbs and tubers in the ground year round. I spot plant daffies and tulips and ranunculas around the edges of pots and then either have a dahlia in the center (which tends to sprout 2 months after the bulbs die out) or I simply plant annuals like petunias or pansies or allyssum OVER the bulbs and that takes me well into Sept/Oct.

The only downside is having to let the bulbs 'renew' energy and not cut them back after they bloom for 4-8 weeks and they look like crap. But even then, with judicious planting AROUND the bulbs (meaning you can't cram 12 bulbs in a 12" pot) I can still plant pansies in March and April and then cut back the bulbs and by then the annuals have taken over.

Often gives me about 8-9 months of color.

And yes, my yearly 'bill' for these annuals can be prohibitive since I have over 100 pots, so I try to plant as many perennials as I can and spot fill with annuals.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:34AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

UPDATE (5 months later):

The container has been in the dark, unheated garage since late October and I see now there are 10 of the 14 tulip bulbs coming through the soil (see picture below).

When would you suggest I move the planter to the great outdoors? Do I wait until there are warmer temps at night...no frost? In any event with the tulips now coming through I would imagine they need more water?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:54AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Looks nice!
I would avoid frost if possible. Even though the pot looks large enough to offer protection I would err on the safe side and either keep them in a bit longer or protect them well when temperatures drop below freezing. I've lost enough pots of bulbs by taking them out too early and having them freeze, better safe than sorry.
Even in full bloom bulbs in the ground can tolerate freezes, but in pots it's a different story.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:22PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

Thanks 'kato' for the input. Either I wait another few weeks before bringing it out for good or bring it out sooner with the option of 'wheeling' it back in when the forecast says frost. At least that way it gets sun and or rain during the warmer days.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 7:29PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

With this cold, snowy and too wet "spring", these tulips have done better being in the dark but sheltered garage! All 14 bulbs planted last October have finally come up and they are progressing nicely. I think I will bring out the pot into the 'real world' this week with the temperatures finally becoming seasonal.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:46PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

These same tulips as shown above are now like this:

I have been taking the planter outdoors this past week and generally bringing it back into the garage at night.

Is it too much water?..too little (not likely)?

Are the leafs supposed to fall out like this?

I would love to hear your comments.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:28PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

They look great. Keep doing what you're doing. If nightime temperatures are above freezing, they can stay out all night, and if it's a sheltered spot they can easily handle frosts down to 30F. Tulips are floppy, some kinds more than others.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 8:56PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I would leave them outside now so they get the natural conditions that they need to bloom well.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:57AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

And yet today it is 0 C, cold wind and occasional flurries :(.

(Maybe today I will just lift up the garage door to encourage them to harden up a bit).

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:01AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

UPDATE

All turned out just fine in the end. Thanks for all the advice.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:55AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

They look gorgeous. Are you going to leave them in the planter for the summer?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:04AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

You are too kind. But I am so glad that it worked. Too bad they don't last very long. They are now completely finished flowering and my wife was asking just what you have asked!

I had first thought I was just going to "reuse" the bulbs i.e. just pulling the container with the bulbs back into the garage and storing it until next spring but then that seems a waste of the nice planter not in use during the summer. Is it easy enough to remove these tulip bulbs and store them somehow to be then replanted this fall into the same planter again? Or does one just start from scratch this fall i.e buying all new bulbs.

What do you suggest?

This post was edited by rouge21 on Tue, May 14, 13 at 9:25

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 9:16AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

They do look nice!
You could reuse them if you want, you'll need to let them grow for a couple weeks until they yellow, then dig them, dry them and store them till fall.... Or just buy new ones :) another option is to dig them out now and replant them into a bed to grow as perennials. You may get lucky and get a few more springs out of them.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 8:38PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

Thanks kato. I don't plant tulips in a bed due to deer and squirrels.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:26PM
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ziyakr(6)

So glad to hear this worked for someone! Loved your photos of the steps. I tried bulbs in planters for the first time this winter and out of more than a dozen bulbs got only one tulip. Mine were in a protected outdoor area, buried in a big pile of leaves...maybe not enough protection from cold? Tulips planted in the ground at the same time bloomed like crazy, my sister liked the big blooms but I am now a convert to species tulips! Trying a photo for the first time, hope it works.

Ziya

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 8:17PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

When forcing bulbs indoors, I save all the varieties EXCEPT the tulips, to plant outdoors in my gardens. I just throw the forced tulip bulbs in the compost. I find with tulips it is better to buy new, large bulbs every year if I want to force them. Actually, for forcing other species as well, it is generally recommended to buy new bulbs every fall, and not try to force them a second time. The forced narcissus, iris, etc. bulbs go into the ground to replenish themselves over time. However, it is not worth doing this with tulip bulbs.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:11AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

When forcing bulbs indoors, I save all the varieties EXCEPT the tulips, to plant outdoors in my gardens. I just throw the forced tulip bulbs in the compost. I find with tulips it is better to buy new, large bulbs every year if I want to force them. Actually, for forcing other species as well, it is generally recommended to buy new bulbs every fall, and not try to force them a second time. The forced narcissus, iris, etc. bulbs go into the ground to replenish themselves over time. However, it is not worth doing this with tulip bulbs.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 9:12AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

That is a beautiful flower Ziya!

ontnative wrote: just throw the forced tulip bulbs in the compost. I find with tulips it is better to buy new, large bulbs every year if I want to force them.

And here I had set aside (outside) the planter with my now dormant tulip bulbs still in the dirt. But with your experience I will just dig them out and replace them this fall. Thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:11AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Hey rouge21, now you can plant something else in your planter for the summer, summer bulbs or annuals maybe?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:42AM
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rouge21_gw(5)

UPDATE:

It seems there is no success this year :(.

All bubs have been through the soil for several weeks but it appears none will bloom? I am shocked.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:25PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

That's odd that they're not blooming, to me they look as if they still will. Do you think they might not just be late? There are probably flower buds in amongst the foliage. Take a look and see if they look like they might grow still or if they're drying out and shriveling :(
Thanks for the update. Did you leave them in the pot or dig and replant? I wonder if the soil was too dry over winter that might be a reason for the flower buds to abort.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:13PM
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philipw2(7 MD/DC)

Roug21, I am considering in following in your footsteps. Your container is very nice looking. Where did you get it?

THX

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 3:34PM
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rouge21_gw(5)

Thanks for the post 'kato'.

These were complete new bulbs I planted last fall.

The container with bulbs and soil were in the garage all winter.

I do find it hard to judge moisture requirements of such a pot. It was so incredibly cold all winter, even in the garage.

I have my fingers crossed but not hopeful that these are late blooming tulips.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 7:59PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

That's disappointing. It's possible they had some issue (too hot, stored near apples) before you even got them. They look as if they should have bloomed but for some reason didn't develop.... But there's always next year, and at least you have one good year under your belt!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:49PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Did your tulips ever flower this year? If not, I agree with kato_b that the bulbs may have been defective when you got them. Do not store your containers near apples or keep the bulbs too warm before planting in the fall. Bulbs bought on sale in late fall are often not good candidates for forcing. Buy bulbs for forcing in early Sept. and (if tulips) keep in a cool place until planting the following month. Most other bulbs can be planted (either outdoors or indoors) as soon as you purchase them in Southern Ontario. Buy large, top quality bulbs for forcing.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 9:49AM
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