planting fall bulbs

(Question)

Hi – is it feasible to plant tulips, daffodils, etc. in a planter, such a a half barrel, rather than in the ground? Will they be protected enough from the cold? What if the planters are stored for the winter in a (non-heated) garage? Will they bloom as successfully as ground-planted bulbs? My garden is in Toronto, 6A. Thank you for you help.

(Answer)

In winter, bulbs in above-ground containers will get MUCH colder than those planted in the ground — where the earth protects them like a huge insulating blanket — and that can be deadly. Even in the coldest parts of the country, the soil a few feet below the surface rarely freezes, and a bulb planted six inches underground will enjoy relatively balmy temperatures compared to one that’s in a pot on top of the soil. Bulbs that are hardy in zone 6A, for example, are hardy UNDERGROUND in zone 6A, not in an above-ground container where the temperatures can easily be 20 degrees colder. This means you’ll need to store your potted bulbs through the winter in a place that stays colder than 48° F/8°C most of the time but that doesn’t get as severely cold as it is outside.

Old House Gardens at http://www.oldhousegardens.com/bulbsinpots.aspx has a good in-depth article explaining exactly how to do it.

It can be done but is it feasible, you ask? If you are willing to experiment, perhaps.