What to do with unplanted bulbs?

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I received a surprise today - a friend, whose brother is a landscaper, called to ask if she could stop by with a 'gift'. I never turn down gifts, so I invited her for coffee. She brought me a box of tulips her brother had left over from his landscape jobs last fall! There are five different varieties, all nice big bulbs (maybe 200 in all), but I don't know what to do with them!

For starters, It's MARCH 8TH! These bulbs should have been in the ground for 8-10 weeks by now, cooling their heels and sprouting roots! Also, we have several inches of snow on the ground at the moment, plus, almost every square inch of my garden is already planted with bulbs and perennials - if I could find a spot to plant them, when the snow melts, the ground would be totally mud (not my favorite planting conditions)!

My friend assured me her brother had stored these bulbs on an unheated porch since last fall, so maybe they qualify as 'chilled bulbs', but I still need to figure out where to plant them. I think I'm going to buy some bags of potting soil and plant them in large pots to sit around on the patio, as an experiment. I figure if they fail, I haven't lost anything.

While we're sure to have cold days yet this year (spring is still two weeks away), I often place the pots of forced bulbs I grow in the urns around my yard about this time each year (http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1050342/), so I doubt the cold air above ground will affect the bulbs. The only question is, "Will they bloom?"

Stay tuned. I'll post my results.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Humm, I see some are sprouting. A good sign? I hope they bloom for you.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I used to live in Lee's Summit, Mo. and would buy bulbs marked down from the box stores. I planted them in early spring - they did fine and bloomed.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Thanks for your comments, Rita and Kay! I'll bet you don't miss the KC winters, Kay! Rita, I'm looking forward to the photos of your blooms - you outdid all of us when it comes to kilobulb planting!

I'm hopeful these bulbs have been chilled enough to bloom, even though it's now March 9 and I just planted them. I know landscapers in Florida buy chilled bulbs (or buy them and do their own chilling) so they can have big beds of tulips in bloom for Easter, but I'll bet they plant them in February. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained and the bulbs were a gift, so here goes.

I bought a couple bags of moisture-retention potting soil and filled a pair of concrete pots and few spare pots I had in my basement. Last fall I potted up the tulips I had planned for all of my big urns and sank them into an annual bed to force (I'll probably pull those up and place them in the urns sometime in the next couple of weeks - when it's not quite so muddy in my garden), so I'll find additional places to use these pots. Depending upon when the tulips bloom, I may use them to replace the bulbs in a couple of the urns, since these will surely bloom later than the bulbs I started last fall (if they bloom at all).

After planting the bulbs in the pots and topping off with soil, I added a layer of slush from the remnants of the snow on my patio. I did this, not so much to 'chill' the bulbs, as to give a source of moisture to thoroughly soak the pot. The potting soil was fairly dry and I didn't feel like filling watering cans indoors to bring outside (the hoses are rolled up and stored), so I thought this would be a good way to water them. We're getting a light mist of rain, which is supposed to continue overnight, so maybe the pots will be thoroughly soaked by morning.

This message was edited Mar 9, 2013 3:27 PM

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

It looks like snow cones on top of the planters.

Last fall I was cursing at myself for ordering all those bulbs when I had to plant. But now I have forgotten the work involved and am just looking forward to blooms!

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

Rita, it's kinda like birthing a baby, huh?!! LOL

North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Humm, don't know. Never had any children. But that is what I do. I think about how lovely it will all look in bloom when I am ordering and never consider the work until all those bulbs arrive. Then I have to deal with it. But the good part is comming soon and they will all bloom.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

It's warm today and I noticed the snow I placed on the pots compacted the soil so I gave the pots a topdressing of pine bark mulch. It will be a while before these bulbs bloom (assuming they will!), so I want to be sure to keep them moist and as cool as possible.

On a related note, the bulbs I have been forcing to go in my urns were starting to peek out of the mulch, so I pulled the pots up and placed them in the urns. I filled the gap between the pot and the urn with potting soil and topped them off with mulch. A few warm days and they will be above the mulch, ready to bloom.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Looking great!

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Well, it's been exactly one month since I received the gift of these bulbs and they are starting to grow! I'm keeping most of the post in a shady spot on the patio, hoping they will stay cooler and have time to develop properly. Here's how they look today. Obviously, the square planter and the concrete planters are in sunny locations, so they may develop a little sooner. Heavy rains overnight gave everything a good drink.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I will be waiting to see them bloom.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

LOL - Let's hope they got enough 'chill time' to bloom!

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

The tulips look great LG. I hope they bloom well for you.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Well there's lots of foliage - I only see a couple buds, so far. We'll see - it's only a test - LOL.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Yey, any buds are a great sign! Hurray!

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

No blooms yet, but there seem to be plenty of buds. I planted two of the pots in spaces where I grow banana trees in the summer. I won't be bringing the banana trees out of hibernation for several weeks, so I thought these tulips would look nice there. I also put one pot of the tulips in the urn my cat, Jake, has claimed as his own (photo #4). I figure if he gets up and lays on them, it won't be a big loss. Photo #5 is Jake in his 'condo' last spring, watching the world go by. I left the urn empty all season last year, so he could enjoy it.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Love the cat!

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

LOL

Jake is my garden buddy. He stays with me in the garden when I'm outside working. Obviously, he and Ruby, his fellow sentry, enjoy the 'creature comforts' of home. Here they are lounging in the dining room.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

Nice to have a four footed garden buddy.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I guess it's too late, but here's a way to make "containers" where the cost is mostly in the soil you fill them with.

A sqaure or rectangle built of 4 or 6 concrete paving stones stood on end.
The container can be 12" tall or 16" tall, and the pavers are $0.90 to $1.25 each.

You c ould glue them together with masonry glue, but I just lean them inwards a little and chink the gap to keep soil from spilling out at the bottom.

One example here is 5x5 pavers, 16" high and 8" wide.
The "sidewalk" examples are only 8" high, so probably too shallow for bulbs.

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

It looks like my 'gift' tulips are going to do just fine! Here's how they look today - 6 weeks after planting! I sunk two of the pots in the ground by the patio, where I plant usually banana trees in May. I figure the tulips will be done by the time it's warm enough for banana trees.

The pots in the ground appear to have pink tulips. The square pot looks like it will contain a nice, clear yellow variety. The concrete pot has yellow tulips edged with orange - very unique!

I'm really happy with this 'freebie' and I learned a lesson (I think) - properly stored, tulips can be saved, planted in March and still bloom 'in season'!

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Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Here's how my urns with the pots of forced 'Princess Irene' tulips look today. I really like this variety - an orange tulip with purple 'flame' and purple stems.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I think that is just amazing!

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Here we are, 7 weeks from when I planted the 'gift' bulbs and they are looking great! Lesson learned: next year I'm going to save bulbs, chill them in my garage, and plant them in the urns in March! It will be a whole lot easier than the forcing I've been doing for the last 10-15 years!

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

I do love the results.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I think the pink variety is 'Big Eartha' - love the name and the color

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Cochran, GA

Great Job...

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

The lovely yellow tulips look great today!

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Wyoming, MN

I purchased a package of daffodils and two of hyacinths and the end of last season. (They were 75 % off) I placed them in the refrig over winter and just planted them today. They looked great and are just beginning to sprout both roots and buds. I think they are going to do well.

Gary

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

Cold rain, followed by snow gave us about two inches of moisture over the last two days. I covered my peonies, but left the rest of the perennials to fend for themselves. For the most part, the tulips were done, although one pot in a shady spot looked great this morning. They can take a little cold, snow and ice without worry.

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North Shore of L. I., NY(Zone 6b)

The pot of tulips good good.

Albany, NY(Zone 5a)

those look beautiful! what a wonderful gift! :)

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Leawood, what bulbs are next in your gardens?

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

The allium are about done (I have 'Gladiator'/'Globemaster' 'Chrstophii' and 'Purple Sensation') and the lilies are just starting. The orange 'Border' lilies were fading and lost most of their petals in a heavy rain yesterday, but the tiger, trumpet and 'Stargazer' lilies are about to pop.

Gladiolus are technically corms, not bulbs, but I planted a couple dozen last spring. I'm not a diligent gardener and didn't take them in for the winter, but I see I have a lot of them coming back this year. I like having their spires of color in the middle of summer, so I'm glad they persevered.

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Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

I think all the large alliums are done or just about done in our garden, and some lilies are almost ready, but unless they opened overnight, not yet open. I am always amazed that winter zones don't make much difference in bloom times (we are actually 6b/7a) as many of yours bloom earlier than the northeast.

You are more diligent than you think. There aren't many gardeners who do tulips like you do!

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