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Bulbs for Fall Planted Outside Container (zone 4)?

Posted by elleni 4a (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 16, 08 at 22:31


Now that I have finally finished planting all of my fall bulbs I want to plant some more! Unfortunately, I don't have any space left in the garden. But I have a big container, about 12-14 inches deep, that I'd like to put some tulips or something in. I'd have to leave the container outside all Winter. Are there any bulbs I can plant now that will make it through the Winter above ground in Minneapolis?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Bulbs for Fall Planted Outside Container (zone 4)?

The danger is, the bulbs must be watered; water must reach the bottom of the bulb--but not stay there--for the bulb to initiate root production. It must have roots before the worst of winter sets in otherwise, the bulb, without roots, is useless...the freeze will kill the bulb.
With roots, they are protected against anything winter throws at them.

The tulip bulb --let's say put down 6 - 8 inches...would have 6- 8 inches under them.
The problem then is to try to keep the water in so little soil from freezing and causing the bulb to freeze.
Normally the advice is 'dont' try it'...the bulbs cant survive winter's freeze.
But, if you can protect the container from the freeze, and the thaw...then freeze, then thaw...then stand a better chance of growing bulbs this way.

Put a cardboard layer over the outside surface of the container. If its wood, so much the better because it doesn't attract heat nor cold.....when watered, it can absorb water and freeze when temperatures go down.
This then transfer cold to the soil...and to the bulbs therein.
So, protect the container from freezing. The cardboard layer can help and when you put an aluminum foil cover over that, the sun will be deflected.
Snow must not be allowed to sit on the surface. It can melt, then run into the top surface of the soil, where it then freezes. It therefore, cannot be allowed to be hit by sunshine which will do the thawing but cant protect it against nighttime freezing.

If you can, put an A-frame...a lean-to effect over the container to prevent rain/snow/snowmelt from entering the container.
It must also not be where it is hit by wind which will dry out the surface much quicker.
Such good place to put such container is amongst your foundation plants, next to the building.
Mulch the surface to keep the temperature more uniform.
In any case, place the container where it will get some next to the building, out of the sun and away from the wind.

RE: Bulbs for Fall Planted Outside Container (zone 4)?

Hi jeannie7. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

My bulbs came today. AND the folks at sent extras! Eegads! I put out 10 black pots around the garden with (stones holding them down) to, in theory, keep my planned planting spots a bit warmer for the species tulips. However, as the raised bed is already pretty hard, at least on top, and your post implies it might not have been a good choice anyway, I have no idea what I will do with the other 50 bulbs that were going to go in there.

I plan on forcing the free pack of daffodils they sent me.

It has been below freezing for 72 hours! Saturday and Sunday highs should be 35-38 here. I may have to use your warm water trick (from another thread). Wish me luck getting done what I can this weekend.


RE: Bulbs for Fall Planted Outside Container (zone 4)?

  • Posted by adiro 5b/6a Canada (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 21, 08 at 8:01

I had the same question, but after reading yours I think your answers apply to me too...
I bought more than I could chew, so I had no choice but plant them. I put many ( read : crowded) bulbs in four planters, about 10 inch wide, 30 inch long, 10 inch deep. They are Triumph and Darwin tulips, mixed with daffodils and some Duch iris for good measure. The iris sprouted leafs, what a disaster!
Being unable to sink them in the groud, I put the containers on the South side of the house, in a row, and around the row I put bags of dirt, compost mulch , all started and unused in the garden yet. On top I threw about 5 inches of fallen leafs, and now God with them, because I can't do more for these bulbs.
I will let you know how they survive in the spring, but the only thing for sure is that they must have put roots by now, if some started making leaves at this time of the year.... it's minus 8 Celsius here now....
I will post a follow up in the spring

RE: Bulbs for Fall Planted Outside Container (zone 4)?

I got the 50+ tulips destined for the main garden planted today. But I don't think I am going to attempt the raised bed with the remaining 50 darwin tulips. I think I'll try temporarily planting them in the electrical trench that still remains from our new garage this summer. If that doesn't work, I'll need to get some bags of dirt to pot them up like you did!

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