Pre-Chilling of Tulip Bulbs

breakingnewsNovember 10, 2008

This year, I could not resist buying some Tulip bulbs for the first time (I am in Dallas, TX). From reading several posts on this forum, I understood that, the bulbs needs tobe pre-chilled before planting. Could someone please help me with this procedure? like how to wrap them, where to store etc?

Really appreciate you all experts guidance ...

Thx ...

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Experienced, yes. Experts? oh, no.

Put your bulbs into your refrigerator in an area that does not have fruit in it, as the gas the fruit emits will kill the blooms. Also, you want them somewhere that they will be out of the way. They should not be in a plastic bag, but rather, something airy like an onion bag, nylon stocking or even just a loosely closed paper bag.

Make sure that you leave them in your refrigerator for at least ten weeks. I mark my calendar, so I know when they've had enough chill.

It is my experience that whenever you take them out of the fridge and plant them, they will immediately begin to grow and bloom. Knowing this will let you time your show somewhat. The cooler the weather is when they bloom, the longer the blooms will last. On the other hand, if you want them to bloom somewhat later in the season, leave them in the fridge longer. I am remembering that they will bloom 3 to 4 weeks after they are planted out.

It's been a couple of years since I planted tulips and I missed them greatly last year. Having about 100 of them in my fridge is reminding me why I didn't bother last year. Oh well, it's just once a year:)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 4:39PM
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Hello, I'm in Arlington and I am a true bulbaholic.

We need to chill our tulips, that's for certain. Just put them in you fridge. Veggie bin is lovely. They don't like the gas that apples give off, so at least put them in different bins, to be extra safe, put the apples somewhere else.

Typically, I chill mine from early October until Christmas. Are you just putting yours in now? I'd let them chill until mid January if that's the case.

Those lovely swings of temperature we have in winter, where we could get nice warm 70+ days are not appreciated by tulips. They think it's spring and they aren't ready to bloom. So, we need to make them think they've spent about 3 months in the cool ground. January is our coldest month, so 2 months in the fridge, then a month in the cool ground should do ya!

Don't be tempted to plant earlier than Christmas. Thos ice storms in Feb. won't phase a bud, but will tear up the flowers.

Here's some really good news. Because our soil doesn't freeze, and because they are annuals for us, there's no need to plant them deeply. I just cover the tops of mine. Rarely will a tulip go in deeper than an inch below the top of the soil. That makes is really easy to lift them out after they are donen spring.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 4:45PM
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Nell Jean

I've always chilled the bare bulbs, in paper bags in the veggie drawer. I'm trying pots of tulips in the fridge this year, just to see how they fare.

Eight weeks is minimum for chill; twelve is better. Longer chill = longer stems is my understanding.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 8:58AM
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I chill them in the bags they come in (mesh or paper) and this year planted after 8-9 weeks chill. Last year I planted after 6 weeks, and every single tulip bulbs (and hyacinth for that matter) bloomed. I treat them as annuals as well. The added benefit is that we can plant them in huge masses, shoulder to shoulder, without worry of overcrowding, since we dig them up in the spring anyway.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Thanks everyone for these responses!! I really appreciate your advice and am now encouraged put them in cold.. tonight ...until Mid Jan!!

So when I plant them, I am planning to plant them using Miracle-grow soil (2-3inch below ground) that enough or do you guys use any tulip-food that enhances this bloom? Do you add any sand/stones for proper draining ...or does Texas/dallas soil doesn't need any special attention to this issue?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:49PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Okay, first you need to know that tulips in the deep south are planted as Annuals. This means, they will bloom once, and then we dig them up and discard them. (I know. I know. Repeat after me: They're cheap. :) The reason for this is we don't have anywhere near enough winter chill for them to rebuild their strength to bloom again. The PLANTS will come up year after year, but you will get no blooms (or a pitiful little one just here and there). So, you need to prepare yourself for the throw-away.

Since you will treat them as annuals, there is no need to plant them deeply at all. Your planned 2 to 3 inches will be fine. Also, there is no need to fertilize them. The flower buds are already in the bulbs. They were formed LAST year. If you were planting them as perennials, THEN you would fertilize so that they would form blooms for NEXT year.

To tell you the truth, I wouldn't bother with the miracle gro soil unless your ground is so hard that it's extremely difficult to dig.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 9:44PM
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I just cover the tops of mine with soil and toss some mulch around. Usually I plant them between pansies...when the pansies droop it's time to water. They do need water once a week if that comes in rain great, but if the soil gets realy dry the won't grow so give them some help.

Since our soil never freezes, there's no need to plant deeply and buring the top of the bulb 3 inches below the surface is deep. If you're taking about digging a 3 in hole, that would just cover the top. You could use your MG soil as a top dressing.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 12:00AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

I have never chilled any bulbs and never had any problem with them blooming the next Spring. Maybe it's because it gets very cold here by the end of Nov or Dec. Especially Jan and Feb. are so cold.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 7:58PM
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DonnaBaskets, you say for those of us in the south to throw them out because they are so cheap...can't I dig up last year's up and chill them now for spring blooms? I'd rather not throw them out. As for the ones I bought this week, they're bare bulb and bagged...are they prechilled or do I need to chill them? Thanks for your advice, Leslie

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:33AM
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