Help please: allium bulbs sprouted too soon

cynna_leaf(8b)December 6, 2010

I got some wonderful bulbs in late October and put them into pots and planters the second week of November. One container has 5 types layered in, 4 alliums and one hyacinth (about 50 bulbs altogether). I'd lightly watered them so the roots would get started, but didn't put them outside as the temperatures were supposed to drop to below 0 (32F) over night (I was about to have surgery and had to be finished with bulbs).

We ended up with a crazy long cold snap, -10 temps, very unusual for us, so I kept my planters and pots inside in a cool dark place, with lightly layered plastic bags on them so they wouldn't dust up the air. 3 weeks have gone by, and tonight I went to give them a touch of water in preparation for putting them on the balcony tomorrow morning, and to my shock one large planter (the allium one) had sprouts hiding under the plastic. Took the scrunched bag off and the allium sprouts started moving (like a nature movie) for 10 minutes until they were standing up. The sprouts/leaves are about 11' high (def leggy!), and ridiculously strong.

Any suggestions? These weren't supposed to come up yet - I think these are the allium hair and allium azureums that have sprouted. I'm going to move them to under a very cold window tonight (it'll be about 15 degrees/60F there). Outside I was going to pack newspaper & cardboard around the pots, but still we'll be between 0 and 8 in the next couple weeks (32-46F); my condo patio is 17 stories up so usually a bit warmer and slightly protected, but I don't know what process I should go through before moving them there.

Here's my dilemma: I can't make this an 'indoor' planter, what can I do for these that will protect them from dying now and have them come back in 3 months? I figure I have 2 options:

1: I gently coax them back to laying down somewhat, then cover them with more soil and mulching. Hoping the greenery would die off/fall off and new sprouts come in spring, or go dormant and new growth in spring.

2: I trim the growth back, cover with mulching, hope for all new growth in spring.

Any ideas? I was really looking forward to these and don't want to doom them. Honestly, I can't believe how they've rooted and grown so fast in 3 weeks - their vitality is fantastic, but I'm panicking over how long they are and what I can do for them.

The photo shows where I already laid the bag on the left side, so I think they'll lay down if needed.

(Crossposted from Container Gardening)

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Hi there,

Im no expert, but honestly I think your being too protective of them. A lot of bulbs love the cold, and in fact in most species it is what keeps them dormant. From what I have read in your post it sounds like what you have done by keeping them indoors is you have actually forced them. What I would do at this point is take them back outside and sit them next to your building. It will give off a little radiant heat if you are worried about them freezing, and at the same time it should knock them back into dormancy. 8b temps though really wont give them much of a challenge. Water them a couple times over the winter and then come spring watch them sprout back up. Dont worry it the foliage gets frosted back, it may not. A lot of bulbs grow foliage all winter for spring blooms. Your other option is to keep them inside and watch them grow then when temps are equal to inside you can sit them out. Good luck, dont worry most spring bulbs are pretty hard to kill.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2010 at 3:31PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

More details on exactly what these bulbs are would help too. There are lots of kinds of alliums.... Most bulbs NEED cold temps in winter in order to bloom. If you are in the deep south, you should get them outside and leave them there (uncovered). I would do as radar says and keep them near a brick wall, at least at first, but truly, they are unlikely to be hurt by any cold your zone will throw at them. They do need water once a week or so, but the soil shouldn't be soggy.

FYI, I have dozens of kinds of bulbs that are as much as six inches high outside. This is normal, they will not be harmed by cold, and should, God willing, bloom right on schedule.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 6:01PM
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