A Tulip is a Terrible Thing to Waste

So I brought my Tulip pots from the garage today. Everything is frozen solid, true, but still: it’s March. I don’t mind telling you, though, I’m worried about this year’s Tulips.

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Tulips in containers set along the front walk. 

This past winter I stored all the Tulip pots in the garage with no extra insulation. This is something I’ve done before with decent results. So I’ve gotten a little cavalier about protection from winter temperatures. Excess moisture has been a much bigger problem.

But then came January, 2019, and nearly a week where temperatures plummeted to -22F. It’s been decades since there’s been weather that cold here.

I knew I could have a problem when I went to the garage to get this sack of free double Daffodil bulbs that I had received as  part of a promotion. The plan was to force them inside, and I had kept them in the fridge to chill until Judy demanded I move them to our unheated garage (something about needing space for a Thanksgiving turkey). I plunked them on a shelf with absolutely no protection, which was kind of careless of me.

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The 20 least damaged Daffodil bulbs. 

So when I brought them inside I discovered they were all a little soft. Not completely squishy, but not as firm as they should be. If a bulb isn’t firm it’s likely diseased or the cold has caused cells to burst. Most Tulips and Daffodils are hardy to zone 3. Like most cold-hardy plants, their cells have a natural antifreeze – but there’s a limit to how much cold they can tolerate.

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Our container Tulips last year. Hoping for an equal or better display in 2019, but there is cause for worry. 

Anyhow, I picked the 20 Daffodil bulbs that seemed the least damaged and planted them in pots set out on the back porch. So far, there is no sign of them, which does not bode well.

So I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. It may be a month before I know if the Tulip pots are going to be a disappointment this year.


39 Comments on “A Tulip is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

  1. I bet your tulips survive. Goodness your area has had some severe weather this winter. Let us hope this spring and summer will be better for our garden. I think all the rain we got this winter drowned the crocus in the lawn. They aren’t showing even the green yet.

  2. I guess if for nothing else this will help you find your limits? Hopefully they’ll be as excellent as usual this May, and you’ll never need to worry about garage temperatures again. Isn’t it kind of early to put them out though? I used to keep mine in the garage until they at least thawed out and started to sprout a bit, just to save them from some of that freeze-thaw torture.

  3. You were very remiss not to pot up your daffs on receipt – of all the bulbs they want to make early roots – over here even in September, although of course you can plant them very much later than that
    Perhaps the temperatures in your garage were well below -22 – oh I have just realised you work in fahrenheit- is that fifty-four degrees of frost in old money? Wow
    I was about to put my money on your tulips but now I am not so sure
    Best of luck

  4. Oh my! I was just wondering the same about daffodil bulbs I planted late. Someone gave them to us, but they waited out in the shop for a while. It did not seem like too long, but they were a bit ‘light’ when I put them in the ground. I was hopping for immediate growth. Even though it is probably still too early for them (since the were planted late) I want to see some green.

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