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Article: Plant bulbs in pots now, for pretty spring containers: not freezing? right?

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Forum: Article: Plant bulbs in pots now, for pretty spring containersReplies: 5, Views: 23
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December 1, 2011
8:35 AM

Post #8912452

The pots need to be kept above freezing? Right?
They need cooling or chilling ,but not freezing?
I still have bulbs which I keep in the frig,
but could pot them up later when temps stay above freezing.
Thanks for the idea of potting them.
Mine will take longer as they will need to root up and grow all in the spring.
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

December 1, 2011
12:39 PM

Post #8912694

We just put some extra bulbs into 12" foam/lightweight pots that I'll pull up against the side of the house... I think it's unlikely that the pots will freeze down to the depth of the bulb... but maybe I should put them in the garage if it gets down to single digits... ?

Thanks for a great article, Sally -- and just in time, as this is about when I start looking at the remaining bulbs and thinking ??!? where are these going to go, and when am I going to be able to dig them in ? Tucking them into pots is easier!


Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

December 2, 2011
5:53 AM

Post #8913486

I just looked again on that question. None of my initial sources gave any hint of problems regarding pots freezeing through in very cold zones. I am not finding an immediate direct answer to this question at my preferred, horticultural or university extension sources.

Here's a fact sheet from University of Minnesota, one of our coldest areas, I'd think. It says bulbs planting depth depends on the bulb. Therefore, my feeling is that if daffodils at the same depth are planted in Minnesota, as in Maryland, they probably do freeze in Minnesota. Daffodils, for example, are planted about five or six inches deep. How deep does your ground usually freeze in Calgary?

I just read one answer on another forum in which the respondant said that bulbs in the ground will undergo a gradual cooling to freeze, and thawing in spring, to which they can adjust. They cannot tolerate an immediate freeze and thaw such as putting them in a home freezer (zero degrees F) and hasty thaw. This person's profile says he grows many species bulbs from seed and seem to know what he's talking about.

My best advice at this point is to plant the bulbs and let them start to grow roots with cool soil. Then once your really cold weather hits, move the pots to a garage or unheated, but somewhat sheltered, location. Or place them against the house and swaddle them with leaves, straw, etc. The house wall can easily make a "zone" of difference. I think this will best mimic what actually takes place if you plant the same bulbs in your garden.

Another minor note- one source cautioned that you keep an eye on your refrigerated bulbs, lest they sprout in the fridge and be unable to continue growing.

Good luck, to you both ! If I can find a more direct answer I will certainly post back here. And please let us know what you decided to do and whether it worked out OK. Thanks for reading and asking!


December 2, 2011
5:38 PM

Post #8914273

Thank you. I have often wondered on this.
But maybe they can adjust to a gradual freeze.
I guess I might just try a few bulbs.
Yes, I have had bulbs sprout in the frig.

Going to another topic------I wonder if peony roots freeze as they are shallowly planted?


Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

December 3, 2011
6:18 AM

Post #8914663

I just moved a lot of peonies this summer (not ideal timing but beside the point.)
Peonies are fairly shallow, as their buds cannot be too deep. I think they say keep the buds only under one inch of soil. So they are so shallow they surely must freeze, gradually. Maybe this is where we are supposed to heed the advice to let things freeze, then mulch them for winter so they don't heave, or perhaps so they don't freeze and thaw a number of times, or too quickly.

December 3, 2011
6:50 PM

Post #8915428

Yes, I think it may be a sudden deep freeze which does the damage.
Gradual temp changes seem better, and yes the freeze thaw is hard on plants.
We get Chinook winds in winter which warms us up ,but many plants can't take the thaw and refreeze so we mulch so they stay frozen.

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