Will tulip bulbs survive and thrive next spring if planted in 8 inch deep balcony trays in November, then stored over winter in a cold garage, not freezing . Cambridge Ontario zone
Thanks for your question. Yes, you will be able to plant tulips in the balcony trays and store them in your garage for the winter and have them bloom the following spring.
Here are some details regarding the process:
1. Bulbs in pots can be planted more shallowly than bulbs in the garden, but using the recommended depth will help the flowers stand tall. Be sure to allow at least 2″ under the bulbs for root growth. Your containers are on the shallow side, so you should plant the tulips as deeply as possible, filling the bottom 2″ of your containers with potting mix and then moistening the mix. Set the bulbs on top of the soil with their ends pointing up. Give the bulbs a 1/4 turn as you place them to give them some grip on the soil. Space the bulbs about 1/2″ apart in all directions. Tulips look best when the bulbs are planted with the flat side facing out. This means that the flower stalks will grow up and outward instead of crowding the centre.
2.Fill the containers with soil to within 1″ of the rim. Tamp down the soil lightly and then water thoroughly, allowing the excess moisture to drain.
3. Most fall-planted bulbs need to be chilled for 12-16 weeks. During this chilling period, the temperature in your garage should be less than 10 deg C. but not so low that the soil, and bulbs, in the containers will freeze. Daffodils and some smaller bulbs can tolerate being frozen for short periods, tulips can’t. During the chilling period, the bulbs are growing roots, so the soil must remain moist. Water if necessary. I also read that exhaust fumes can damage flower bulbs. Lots of people use their garage for storage, not their cars. If you do park your car in the garage, maybe it would help to put a sheet of plywood over the containers.
4. As spring approaches, start watching for the bulbs to sprout. When you see little shoots, bring the containers out into the light. Water the soil and continue watering when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Mix water soluble bulb fertilizer according to the package directions and water the bulbs with this monthly after they begin to form flower bulbs and until the plants start to die back.
5. Container-grown bulbs are usually treated as annuals. This is particularly true of tulips. Most modern varieties only bloom well the first year even in the garden.
Here are a couple of links for you to check out: