TOW: Tender Bulbs in Cold Climates Without a Greenhouse

J.E. Shields
Fri, 11 Apr 2003 16:46:50 PDT
To make amends to Mary Sue and all those not as enthralled as I by 
discussions of pronunciation, I'll contribute a bit to this TOW.

I grow a lot of summer growing bulbs outdoors in their pots during the 
summer, and then store them dry, dark, and dormant in their pots in the 
basement over winter.  Hymenocallis, Hippeastrum, Sprekelia, Crinum, and 
some Nerine come to mind as examples.  Haemanthus montanus can be handled 
this way, but it is hard on it.  Haemanthus humilis hirsutus grows from 
mid-summer through mid-winter and is a bear to handle, even with a 

This does not work with the summer-growing (evergreen) Haemanthus, 
however.  They need to spend the winter in a brightly lit spot, with some 
water occasionally.  A sunny south-facing window (Northern Hemisphere) 
would probably be fine for Haemanthus albiflos, H. deformis, and H. 
pauculifolius over the winter.  Then they should go outdoors under high 
shade for the summer.  Mine spend the summer in the same lath house with 
the Clivia, Scadoxus, and a few other shade lovers.

In fact I think that a couple Clivia, the aforementioned evergreen 
Haemanthus, Scadoxus multiflorus katherinae, and Scadoxus puniceus 
(hysteranthous: goes dormant in autumn, blooms very late winter or early in 
spring, foliage in late spring) would make a great combination for use as 
house plants in winter and outdoor shade plants in summer.

I grow Zantedeschia either stored bone dry in the basement in winter and 
repotted in spring (outdoors, high shade in summer) or left potted in a 
cold frame.  Now the cold frame worked for a couple of winters, but I see a 
lot of damage to those tubers this year.  Maybe the cold frame is not such 
a good idea after all in USDA cold zone 5.

For many years, I grew Hymenocallis, Hippeastrum (Dutch hybrids), 
Sprekelia, and Crinum by planting them outdoors in the ground in May and 
digging them in October, then storing them as bare bulbs in boxes over 
winter -- also dry, dark, dormant and in the basement.  Not 
recommended!  The chore of digging in Fall and replanting in Spring gets 
really old after just a couple years.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA                   Tel. +1-317-896-3925

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