Bulbs in containers

Asked December 1, 2014, 5:57 AM EST

Have several gardens and recently,after having planted tons of Tulip bulbs only to have very few [squirrels moles?] come up I opted to try container planting. Got 4 large planters with lots of bulbs in each. I also covered each with netting as an extra precaution. Then, after it got down to 32, I put them in the garage as I have read to do. My question is, should I be watering @ all? You say just during the Autumn renewal but that's probably different for my zone? Thanks in advance!

Erie County New York horticulture

3 Responses

The key to keeping the bulbs alive through the winter is to keep them in a medium that is well drained so it insulates them from repeatedly freeze and thaw and yet provides the moisture and air needed to stay dormant. The key is the well drained medium in the pot or the ground. Outdoors, a well-watered fall and the usual snow melt keeps it moist enough.

Indoors, in large pots in the garage, is a good location in zones 5-6. Check on the pot about once a month to see if he potting medium is slightly moist. If it gets too dry, add a small amount of water. But if it still eels moist, give it another month and check again. The cold temperatures will keep them dormant. Do not fertilize them until the spring when active growth starts again.

You could also dig the bulbs and clean and store the individual bulbs for the winter, but that does take more work and care. I assume you prefer to keep them in the pots ready to grow again in spring.

I noticed you used the word "netting" and wondered what type of material you used. Plastic or fabric netting has little deterrence to the various critters who like to eat bulbs. The preferred method is to cage the bulbs in wire baskets. You can make these from small-celled chicken-wire or large-celled hardware cloth. This keeps the bulbs safe either in the pots or the ground. The growth pushes through the mesh, but the tasty bulb stays protected inside the wire cage. If your storage area might be prone to voles or mice, you can make a pot lid out of wire mesh hardware cloth to push over the soil.

Hope this helps.

Wow, thank you so much Marilyn! Yes, you are correct, I will keep them in the containers to bring out in spring here in zone 5. I did not know about the netting I'm using....only the bridal veil type! I will definitely follow your expert advice regarding watering going forward.....wish me luck!

Looking forward to spring already! Hope you have a lush color show. Start fertilizing when you see new growth and give them plenty of sun in the summer and they will bloom and multiply.