Overwintering Potted Hyacinths

marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)November 27, 2011

Hi, I searched for an answer to my question, but haven't found any answer. Please forgive me if this question has been asked before.

I usually plant all of my bulbs in the fall in the garden and enjoy them the next spring. This year I bought some hyacinths on sale (75% off... I couldn't resist) and would like to plant them in pots so I can just sink them with the pots in larger flower containers for the front door, or in my raised planter around my deck. I figured together with some early potted pansies it would make a great early spring arrangement. I can't plant the hyacinths in the raised planter or the larger container snow, they would freeze solid for weeks on end in our winter here. My garage stays between 40F and 50F during the winter. I was wondering if I could plant the hyacinths now, keep them in the garage, water them sparingly and in early spring move them to their display area?

Every spring I look at the potted tulips and daffodils and such and think why didn't I plant a few last fall? This year I am going to try it. Any advice or hints you could give would be very much appreciated.

Btw, I bought 16 salmon Gypsy hyacinths and 16 buttery yellow City of Haarlem hyacinths. I think I will combine them with white and soft yellow pansies, or maybe do something daring and combine them with white and orange pansies...lol

Thanks in advance for you advice.

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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

;) I went with the gypsy but then also got bags of blue, purple and violet! I was thinking of doing the same as you have planned but maybe actually bringing them in and forcing the bulbs... The scent might be too much though.

Your plan should work. Are you sure of the temps? 50 and above will be too warm but the 40's would be perfect. The only problem might be they will begin to sprout much earlier in the garage and might be too far ahead of outdoor conditions.

My plan is to pot up the bulbs and bury them in mulch outside. I try to keep them close to the house foundation, the mulch stays drier and doesn't become a block of ice. It's not the freezing temps that worry me, it's not being able to bring the bulbs in when I want to start growing them indoors.
Good luck, I think any of your pansy choices will look great... I'm leaning towards the orange!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:12PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

Thanks Kato_b, do you think just keeping the pots mulched close to the house will be enough protection? I agree with your thoughts that they will sprout earlier in the garage, so I like the idea of mulching them in outside and close to the house for protection. I think I will try that and test it for myself. Thanks for the vote on the orange pansies...lol

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:58AM
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Yes, I think you'll find that your garage is just too warm, even at 40 degrees, they'd be up and blooming weeks before you want them to.

However, the "plan b" of potting them up and putting outside in a sheltered spot under mulch should work, as long as it's really deep, heavy mulch. Or even dig the pots right into the ground, then mulch.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 1:48PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

I also try to fill the pots to the rim with soil, it keeps water from sitting there and freezing/thawing... a real bulb killer. Freezing won't kill the bulb, it's a sudden freeze that seems to do damage.

Digging the pots into the ground is a good idea, but in my case I want to be able to get to them during the winter to bring in and force.... maybe I should do the garage thing myself, I'm just not sure if the temp is too high or not.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 6:35PM
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marcindy(z5b, Indianapolis, IN)

One other question. I have a an unattached garden shed that is basically a few degrees warmer than the outside temperature in winter. So it can drop to single digit temps on our coldest days even in there. I always assumed that that was too cold for bulbs, being out of the protective environment of the soil. True?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:12AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

My answer to that is I don't know..... I used to keep potted late planted bulbs in an unheated garage and sometimes they did well and sometimes not. Low temps were probably in the teens maybe lower and the pots had no protection around them. Maybe I killed them by taking them out too early and freeze-thawing them to death, maybe they got too cold. If I remember correctly tulips were more likely to survive than daffs.... I never tried hyacinths this way.

This would be a good time for a bulb expert to chime in :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:20PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I pot up bulbs I get on sale in late fall, and keep them in my cold cellar, which never quite freezes. Then when they are growing a couple of inches, I bring them upstairs and enjoy the flowers. An unheated garage might be okay too, as long as it doesn't get freezing cold until AFTER the bulbs have rooted well. This can happen if you purchase and plant the bulbs very late (November-December). I have some lovely 'Firelights' hyacinths blooming now that I bought on sale last fall. Unusual colour and very pretty, sort of a peachy pink.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 8:39AM
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I'm in Kokomo, about 1 hour north of Indy. Aren't Hyacinths hardy in zone 5?

I planted some in the ground, maybe 3 feet from the house. Most of them seem to have survived for a few years. Am I just lucky? They are not in a raised bed. They do have mulch and are slightly elevated (drain a little in our heavy clay soil).

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:10AM
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I know Hyacinths are hardy in Michigan, they seem to like to peek out in the snow and add color early in the year.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:56PM
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