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in The potting shed
I have decided to plant my spring flowering bulbs in pots because the squirrels keep digging them up. Can I leave the pots in the greenhouse or do they need to be outside (protected from pests)? Also when I have bought already flowering bulbs in pots from the garden centre they are on top of the compost and not covered - is this the way to do it successfully? Any help gratefully received.
Sounds like a plan to me-it will be slightly warmer so you may find they will be earlier- is the idea that once they are poking through to put them outside?
As for the other part-are you referring to hyacinths?- that is how they are usually grown for the indoors-I wouldn't say they are sitting on top of the compost but they are not buried
How cold does it get in your greenhouse? Some bulbs need cold weather as part of their growth. They also will need watering over winter. I would keep the pot outdoors apart from the most severe of weather. You actually do not want bulbs to grow over winter as they will be long and lanky with the poor sun light hours and may grow up blind. Better smaller and stronger than longer and prone to falling over.
I agree with blairs on this one.
Your second point about bulbs on top of the soil when you buy them - that's to make them flower quickly.
It's not a good idea as the bulbs may freeze and be killed - plant them below soil level, as near as you can manage to garden depths. Also, don't let the pots freeze solid - put fleece over them or move them to somewhere sheltered if hard frosts are predicted.
Agree with blairs re possible problems/extra work keeping them in the greenhouse. If this is to give them additional 'squirrel protection' you could try putting a layer of chicken wire just below the surface of the soil. You won't see it and the bulbs will happily grow through it but it should deter the squirrels - it did ours. They were also less keen to take them from pots anyway so good luck!
The bulbs from garden centres sitting on the surface of the soil have often being forced undercover and its cheaper for them (as less compost used). Bulbs have everything they need to grow in the bulb itself re food etc so don't need to be buried if they are grown indoors where the environment is controlled (eg right temperature, watering etc)
If you don't happen to have chicken wire to cover your pots of bulbs against squirrels etc, the prunings from berberis, pyracantha, holly etc. or anything esle prickly, tucked across and around the pots does well too. Once the bulbs are through in the spring the twigs can be taken off and composted in the usual way. Find this works pretty well.
I plant approx 50 No pots with daffs & tulips each year outdoors and leave to the elements in N.E.England never had a problem. The bulbs normally have been saved from previous years.
i have them in containers covered with newspaper with a couple of bricks on top which deters squirrels etc. and leave them at the end of the garden. I bring them near the house for a welcome show in the spring. They go back to the end of the garden after flowering as they produce good flowers if you give them a feed and let them die down naturally. I then plant up the pots with annuals for a summer display or courgettes etc.
I've always potted up and left outside for planting in the spring - I've never got the garden prepared early enough to put them straight in. Last year was not a success. planting was late (waiting for the half price bulb sales), winter was very early and I lost a lot. It won't stop me doing the same again this year though. It's worked well for years and I can see just where to put them when the time comes.
Thanks everyone for your replies all of which are useful. I shall give them a go outside as the greenhouse is heated. As with Angie 3 I like to place them where I want them in spring and it also helps to protect the emerging flowers from the large paws of Buster the dog!
I use small pieces of pea netting tied over the pots to deter the squirrels from digging them up from the pots. Once the shoots are visible you can remove it.
Sometimes I group pots of the same size together & use a large piece of wire mesh across the lot- weighted down. J.
I don't have a sqirrel problem, thankfully, but I do plant bulbs in pots, mostly Tulips and usually no more than 2 nice contrasting colours, lots of them, and as deep as you would in the garden.I got the idea from watching Carol Klein do it in her garden. The more pots you can do the better, but I don't go for lots of varieties as the mass of one or two colours, all out at the same time is stunning. This year i am growing Abbu Hassan...one I have always looked for and found at Malvern last Autumn Show. I can't wait.
I am afraid that I don't find the second year worth bothering with and if I do try to get them to reflower I have no great expectations. It is partly down to my lack of skill and partly down to the habit of tulips. I prefer to start afresh each year and enjoy the excitement of finding a new variety or two to try.