My soil drains poorly therefore my soil is almost always wet.
Most bulbs don’t like “always wet soil” therefore I struggle to grow bulbs.
I like bulbs in spring therefore I grow bulbs in containers.
A rather logical solution me thinks.
I tried growing tulips for a number of years when we first moved into our current home. I was out there each Fall digging to the proper depth, spacing them out accordingly and even feeding them a bit. And not once did I see a sign that any of them even thought about leafing out.
Even a dolt like me eventually figured out that they were rotting in the wet soil over the winter/spring. The daffodils and summer snowflakes have reliably come back year after year, but almost all other bulbs, including the tulips, have failed to thrive. Normally I would say “shit happens” or “it isn’t in the cards”, but my wife loved tulips and I needed to keep up the front that I was an all world gardener.
It didn’t take long to find the solution. A little bit of web research and I had my plan. Grow bulbs in containers where I could control the soil and ultimately, the drainage. Genius.
There were a few options on how to pull off growing bulbs in containers. I could bury the containers outdoors over winter. I could store the containers close against the foundation where they would stay warmer. I could store the containers inside my attached garage where it was warm enough to escape the brutal cold but cold enough for the bulbs to go through their appropriate cycle.
I opted for “garage” and haven’t looked back.
Seriously, it couldn’t be any easier. The bulbs are planted in your standard old potting soil at a shallower depth than is recommended on the package and are planted closer together than is suggested.
I cover the bulbs with more soil, water them a bit and that is it. They go into the garage not to be thought of again until spring. No watering or anything else needs to be done.
The first signs of growth appear in early March and by the time they are 2-3 inches in height, I move them outdoors. If there isn’t enough water from the spring rains, I’ll water them regularly. That is it. I just let them do their thing.
I had these by mid April last year.
Fast forward to this week and I realize I’ve completely forgotten about the four containers I had stowed in my garage. They were hidden out of view, which probably speaks volumes about the state of my garage organization. I immediately moved them outdoors, probably later than required as you can see by the amount of growth below.
Oh well, we’ll see how it goes.
If you want a lot more detail on growing bulbs in containers, I suggest you click here. Really good stuff.
I am incorporating one process improvement this season and that is doing a better job of acclimating the bulbs in containers to the sun. In years past, after I’ve moved them from the garage, I’ve stuck them immediately into full sun. This year, all of the containers have been placed in a shaded location for most of the day and will then bump up the sun exposure over the next few weeks.
Wish me luck!