How do I store bulbs I was supposed to plant by now?

dblan9(z5a IL)November 15, 2008

My wife and I missed the time frame to plant some allium bulbs. The ground is now frozen and we were wondering if there is a way to store through the winter to plant next year. I know it is a long shot but we were hoping someone might have a trick. Thank you.

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ouch---I just planted tulips yesterday, IA 4a. Ground is still warm here. Do you have anyplace you could put them until next fall, then move them? I've never had luck saving them, they tend to dry out.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:39AM
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Is the ground so frozen you cant dig it? if not then I would get those bulbs planted now.
Bill 76years gardening.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 7:56AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Possible solutions for unplanted spring blooming bulbs

If all the soil is frozen, you may have to buy a few bags, depending upon how many bulbs you have, and just sort of plant them above ground level, or in a big container/tub/wheelbarrow, with drainage holes.

Good Luck.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 8:09AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

I agree with the posts above. You gotta get those bulbs in the ground sometime this winter if you want them to survive. Are you sure the ground is frozen solid? It seems really early for that... I'm one zone warmer than you and my ground doesn't freeze until January. Maybe you can plant them during a January thaw?

Other posters have talked about breaking thru a few inches of frozen soil with a shovel, or pouring water on the ground to melt it, or laying a flattened black plastic bag on the planting area for a few sunny days to warm the area. As long as you can get the bulbs under soil, they will be fine.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Are you sure the ground is frozen in zone 5? I'm in Minneapolis, 4a, and just planted the last of my bulbs this afternoon. (Yeah!!!) It will be a few weeks here before the ground it actually frozen.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 8:47PM
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Nell Jean

Look at this way: It's like asking how you can store some onions you've decided not to eat this winter. Bulbs have a definite, short shelf life, but there's nothing magic about a 'time frame' that says you must plant them before Nov. 15.

You can find a spot, and a way, to get them into the ground now. If not, you may as well toss them; expensive lesson.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 10:25AM
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shucks, man, the surface of the ground is just a little crunchy. We have planted bulbs by flashlight dressed in sheepskin coats, snow flying at the end of November. Go out there and do it. And you expected sympathy?
Marie (who will be getting 1,000 muscari bulbs by mail any day now)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 11:51PM
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dblan9(z5a IL)

Thanks everyone for responding. We went out and dug through last weekend and planted the bulbs. Thanks everyone for responding.

Please, Please, show me where I expected sympathy. I merely posted a question to a forum. Im sorry that my wife and I have more important things to do than recreate the opening to Empire Strikes Back while planting Bulbs at night!!! You are super hardcore and I only wish that someday I can be as perfect as you.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:18AM
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I am sorry about my misplaced humor. I never post here, so I should have realized this isn't the time for tongue in cheek remarks. I really do apologize. And when we planted bulbs at night it was always because I am disorganzed and procrastinate and my husband is a good sport. Perfect, oh my God, I am so not that!!! It's awful to feel dissed by a post, so I hope you just chalk this up to playing on the internet too late at night.


    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 3:09PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

heh heh
"recreate the opening to Empire Strikes Back while planting Bulbs"

I might try an Indiana Jones theme.... I'll run across the yard planting bulbs left and right while a big round boulder crashes along behind me!

I don't think any insult was meant. Sorry you felt that way. Hope everyone (including me) gets their bulbs planted!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 5:25PM
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dblan9(z5a IL)

I need to apologize to Idabean.

I was incredibly insulting and out of line and I am sorry. You were only trying to help me with some humility tossed in, which is something we desperately all need. I am truly sorry for flying off the handle and venting outwards at you specifically. I value your opinion as I value everybody's opinion here and I would hate to think I stifled that. I sincerely apologize and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:59PM
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let's consider it all over, and both go out and plant our bulbs. My 1,030 arrived today. My husband said he can make me a multiple bulb planter at work tomorrow. That kind of thing is called a "government job" I call it great! Happy thanksgiving everyone.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 11:05PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

idabean, if you have a good design for that bulb planter, let us know! I also have 1000 or more to go, and the bulb planter for hard soil I was planning to order has been sold out. (the tubular kind you see in all the stores is useless here: the one I bought 20 years ago is still hanging in the garage with a plug of hardened dry clay inside. I keep it as a sort of talisman against the buying of useless tools. Ditto the bulb auger. )

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 12:20PM
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oh yes, those bulb planters the short and long of them. He made one, and I want to try it tomorrow, unless it is too cold (tongue in cheek, which is sore because I had a tooth extracted and the first stage of an implant begun

I guess I should back and review that earlier post about going out in the cold.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 9:36PM
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Last weekend the ground in my yard was fine! Thinking there was plently of time left in the season, I was easily taken in by the great sale at and I ordered more 100 bulbs on Monday. They arrived on Thursday-- with free extras!

I forced myself out into the sunny, but 30 degree garden this afternoon and planted half of the sale bulbs. I planted 66 bulbs through 2 inches of frost encrusted top soil! I have enough bagged dirt to pot up and force the daffodils and "queen of the night" tulips included free with my order. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining 50 mixed darwin tulips once destined for a fixed, raised bed (an idea abandoned due to advice from this site). Taking a tip from cindi_in_ks' post in another thread, I had the idea tonight they could be planted in the still exposed electrical trench dug this summer for our new garage. The trail of mounded dirt runs right through the middle of the lawn, but is probably the last open area big enough for 50 bulbs. Like cindi says, I can always move them next Spring. I'd cut a new plot in the grass, but the grassy areas *do* seem to be frozen. I'll be back outside tomorrow-- it should be close to 40!

Good luck to the rest of you. Just remember you are saving the life of a flower with every bulb you get in the ground this Fall.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:37PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

"Just remember you are saving the life of a flower with every bulb you get in the ground"
-Now I feel a guilty about the cannas I left to die because I wanted to get the tulips planted!! I can't win, LOL.

Sorry about the hijacking of your post dblan9. Seems this thread has turned into a "I plant bulbs late" support group.... won't we all feel silly when temperatures go back up to the 50's the week after Thanksgiving!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 10:46AM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

I won't feel silly if it does, I will be grateful. And swear never to wait so long again.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 9:11PM
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Sometimes winter sneaks in sooner than when we expect and the ground can take on a krinkly feel to our feet and we feel it is not conducive to digging in.
However, many times, just below the surface, is ground soft enough to warrant trying to use the spade.
Where one confronts soil that will not give up its ice, then hot water poured in sufficient amount to unfreeze down the desired depth, can be utilized.
It is not unusual, for small areas of soil to be unfrozen down to 6" before the ground refreezes with said water.
The mud that develops can hold bulbs that we forgot to plant when should have.
Water must be given the bulb at its bottom to initiate roots. It must be retained long enough for the bulb to use it. A six-inch depth will often be sufficient to ward off the freezing temperatures long enough for this to take place.
Then, a mulching over and a layering of evergreen boughs for further protection, will maintain the soil temperature to give the bulb the best chance of obtaining roots.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 5:29PM
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ChiGardener(z5 Chicago)

Hopefully I'm not encroaching on your post and hopefully I'll get some replies to this post! I may post it as it's own post also so if you see it twice . . .

This makes me feel . .. HORRIBLE!!!! I have BAAAAAGS of bulbs from muscari to daffodils to tulips, sitting in the back of my minivan right now! They've been there since the mid/end of October!!! My plan was to add topsoil and compost to a dip in the yard and then add the bulbs there! Well, I never really finished the back and forth to Home Depot to get the total amount I calculated and well, life just got in the way! I was wanting to save money doing it all myself but it just got really tiring so here I am . . . typing this message. .with over 400 bulbs in my van!!

In order for me to have repeat season blooming I HAVE to get them in the ground?

Would it be possible to put them in pots or a large . ..SOMETHING, with some drainage holes and then try to put them in the ground in say, February? Or is moving them after they've started some root and/or top growth a death sentence???

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 10:50AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

yes you must get them in the ground.
yes you could put them in pots.....

But if they didn't get into the ground last month do you honestly think you'll get to potting them up now!? lol... and then maybe planting them out in Feb!? hah hah, I'm sure you have more important things to do.

Sooooooo, if you want the advice of a very experienced procrastinator, who may or may not have been in the same position, continue with plan B. Take the bulbs, put them where you wanted them (in your lawn's low spot), dump whatever topsoil/compost you already have on top of them and call them planted. If you have no topsoil, go out and get a couple bags of shredded bark or some other mulch (much lighter than heavy bags of topsoil!) and put that over the bulbs. Try for at least an inch or two of covering.

or.... Plan C. If you already have some mulch down, rake it up, put your bulbs down, throw the mulch back over them.

and.... if they possibly happen to sit in the bags all winter, keep them in a cool garage and try planting them next spring.... the tulips probably won't amount to much but the rest might survive to bloom another year.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 5:21PM
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