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INSIDE or OUTSIDE, Bulbs in Containers over Winter.

Hello all, 

I'd love as many opinions on this as I can get, as it will change per geographical location, weather, opinion, experience and on what's available. 

I have planted up some containers up with bulbs ready of spring, all with the correct soil and grit ratios and mulched with grit. 
I have a variety of Aliums, Tulips, Anemones and I am thinking of extending to a few others. 

My quandary is should I keep these pots outside over winter or have them covered/stored ?

I have a garage that isn't heated, therefore, of a cool temperature, a cold frame and lastly but most unfortunately, a mediocre quality plastic green house that will last this winter. 

I live in Glasgow, Scotland and we are expecting a very cold winter. Our winters a very wet and snow is inevitable at some point, but most commonly wet. 
I am worried about the bulbs getting too wet and rotting before spring even though the pots have adequate drainage. 

Please share your opinions and advice on this, it would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you, Andrew 


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 5,316
    I keep my potted bulbs under cover to keep them dry. They can cope with the cold but not the wet. You only need to water them once when planted up, then when new shoots are showing. Take them outside when weather conditions are more favourable and they are about to flower. I'm in SW England so much milder than Glasgow!
  • Thank you for your reply! That certainly makes sense. 
    Do you think a garage would be ok for them (probably a relatively consistent temperature and plenty of space) or would they be better covered up outside? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 31,042
    edited November 2019
    I'd keep them all outside. You can shelter them against a wall if you want, to prevent any waterlogging, but it's really just tulips that need it. 
    Mine all just sit out in their final positions  :)

    You might find anemones are a bit iffy - I'm assuming you mean the de Caen types? They need quite specific conditions - they rarely do much for me as i can't provide them with that, although they might be better in pots as you can move them.  
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 5,316
    I don't think it matters too much where you keep them - wherever is more convenient for you. They would certainly need to be moved out of the garage as soon as green shoots start showing so you'd have to keep an eye on them and you may find that they start to do that earlier if they are inside. Certainly if you've squirrels around, it would be safer.  On the other hand, tulips particularly need a period of cold (I forget why) so in or out may depend on your weather conditions up in Glasgow. 
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 1,959
    Monty Don suggested a coldframe with the sides open - so shelter from wet and snow, and that's what I do. I am in the far south, the Isle of Wight, so extreme cold isn't much of a problem. I imagine that bulbs planted in the ground freeze, however, so wet is the real issue. I have never tried anemones, either.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 31,042
    Don't put them in the garage @Andrew.D.P. Outside, some shelter for the tulips if you're concerned about waterlogging, but if you've planted them correctly, and have them on some small supports, they will be fine against a house wall. They won't last more than a year or two anyway.
    They should be planted too deep for squirrels too. The only ones which are likely to be dug up are the anemones. Chicken wire foxed over the top sorts that.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • WillDBWillDB Posts: 2,490
    Put them in the lee of a fence or wall - rain and wet will cause more issues than cold per se. A house wall will give some thermal protection if minus double-digit temperatures are expected though. 
  • yorkshireroseyorkshirerose North YorkshirePosts: 510
    Hello, Andrew.
    I'm in a, currently, very wet North Yorkshire, and am expecting a cold winter. I have planted a large range of bulbs too. I'm keeping the majority of the tulips in  a closed cold frame (there are enough little gaps in it to allow airflow -Ref: Monty Don)
    I have a selection of crocus, dwarf iris and dwarf narcissus in my cold greenhouse.

    As shoots appear in any of the pots I stand them outside, sheltered against a South facing wall.

    All pots are topped with grit and covered with chicken wire as squirrels are a problem in my garden.

    Hope this helps you decide what to do.

    A gardener's work is never at an end  - (John Evelyn 1620-1706)
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 3,408
    I have species tulips, daffodils, crocuses, alliums and dwarf gladioli shortly to be potted up. They are going against a sunless north wall, sheltered by the roof overhang.

    My winter days are often dry and sunny but with massive temperature drops and heavy frosts overnight, so I don’t want them getting too warm during the day and be tempted to poke tender wee shoots out too early.. 

  • @Nollie @yorkshirerose @WillDB @Fairygirl @Posy @Lizzie27

    Thank you for all your replies! Apologies for my delay in replying but I have been away with work. 
    I decided to pot them all with a top layer of grit and then store them in a plastic greenhouse frame. This has provided them with cover, protected them from driving rain and protected from early frost. The weather in Glasgow is unbelievably unpredictable and driving and we have experienced a huge variety so far. I have some shoots coming through especially the anemones and alliums, and after all that a squirrel managed to destroy the roof of the plastic greenhouse! 
    I have bought another but will reinforce it with chicken wire as snow is due for Glasgow in January. Unfortunately I don't have hard ground space for cold frames and am reliant on vertical space. 
    My bulbs in the ground are doing well also with small shoots appearing, a sprinkling of Chilli Flakes have deterred many attempts from bulb foraging squirells Ref; Adam Frost. 
    Hopefully the impending cold weather will put them all on pause. 

    Daffodils underplanted with Muscari and some tulips dotted through in the ground. 
    Alliums, multiple variety, underplanted with Muscari and some tulips dotted through in the ground. 
    Some 'lasagne' layered pots include Allium, Muscari, Tulip, Spanish bluebell and Ranunculus - all of a white and light blue colouring.  

    I hope they all come through well, because if they do, it should be a nice display!

    Thank you again for all you help. Any other tips please feel free to leave a comment.

    All the best, Andrew.  
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