wintering-over Spring bulbs in pots
Wed, 07 Dec 2011 14:30:49 PST
Thanks for the descriptive suggestions, I appreciate your input and  
expertise. Perhaps next summer I should prepare a raised bed such as you  describe 
and have it ready for the inevitable last-minute bulb purchases.
HZ 5b
In a message dated 12/7/2011 5:15:56 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:

There  are several solutions.  One is to prepare the planting bed while the 
 weather is nice, and then throw black plastic over it.  So the soil stays  
workable, especially if it's on a raised bed and you've worked some sand 
into  it.

Or you could dig some trenches while the soil is dry, and pile the  soil 
nearby.  Then cover the area with black plastic.  Then plant  the bulbs and 
pull the soil over them.  This is very fast and easy.   You can plant the 
bulbs thickly, so they don't take up much room.  Don't  forget to label.  Then 
move them to their final position next  summer.

If you have to plant them in pots, the easiest thing is  probably to make 
an above-ground planting bed with pressure-treated  10x10s.  Pot the bulbs up 
and put them inside the wood frame, and then  fill it up with bark, leaves, 
sand or dirt.  Try not to leave many air  spaces, and make sure there is at 
least a couple of inches of fill above the  rim of the pot.  If your 
winters are really cold, pile some bark on the  outside of the frame also, and 
maybe even cover the whole thing with some  bubble wrap or plastic film, to 
keep the wind out.

If you want to, you  can let the bulbs grow in these pots next spring, but 
make sure to feed them  with lime and NPK fertilizer, and make sure the 
frame is in a sunny  place.  If you are going to do this, the pots should be at 
least one  gallon, but bigger is better.  And don't let them dry out while 
they are  growing.  But the bulbs will do much better in the garden.

If you  grow Dutch bulbs in a greenhouse, it needs to be cool and  
well-ventilated.  Otherwise, the stems will be elongated and weak, and  the leaves 
of the tulips will get Botrytis.

Pro-mix is a very expensive  way to do this.  I grow Dutch bulbs in a mix 
of bark, sand, and garden  soil, with some lime and bone meal mixed in.  They 
love it.  You  could substitute perlite or pumice for the  sand.
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