Q&A: Cold-Climate Bulbs

Can bulbs survive the winter (and chinooks) in a pot?
Lily_bulb

Lily_bulb

Q: I have a very shady yard but would like to have tulips or other color in the spring. I have mostly deciduous trees by the front door and thought I could plant bulbs in pots and move the pots around with the sun. Will the bulbs survive the chinooks?
— F.P., Zone 2-3, Calgary, AB.

A: Overwintering bulbs in containers is a very dicey proposition in your area, due in part to the periodic thawing that's typical of your winters when the warm, dry winds of the chinooks come to call. You might try to find a spot that will give your pots continuous cold storage — an unheated cellar, for example. The folks at Golden Acre Garden Sentre in Calgary say that some gardeners find a plastic liner that fits the container they want to use, then plant the bulbs in potting soil in the liner and sink that into the ground. Once it's time for the bulbs to emerge in the spring, they pull up the liner and insert it in the container.

If you don't want to take a chance on bulbs, you can count on tough annuals like pansies, ornamental kale and snapdragons to provide color in early spring; all would do okay in containers. Golden Acre also recommends a number of spring-blooming perennials that do well in shade and tolerate a few degrees of the frost that's common in your spring — primula, leopard's bane and bleeding heart. Those could go directly in the ground.

Good luck!

Next Up

Planting Bulbs in Containers

Follow these easy steps for planting bulbs in containers and you'll have a display that brings spring to your doorstep.

Planting Bulbs in Pots

A planting of mixed spring bulbs will give quick, near-guaranteed results for kids and a colorful display that can be enjoyed by the rest of the family. 

Planting Spring Bulbs in Pots

Pots brimming with spring bulbs lift the spirits after winter. Plan ahead and plant up pots in the fall, and for a truly dazzling display, combine a collection of different flowers in one large container.

Tuck Summer Bulbs Among Those Annuals

It's time to get those summer bulbs in the ground.

Grow Guide: Forcing Bulbs

Get tips on adding beauty and fragrance indoors when you force bulbs.

Growing Bulbs in Baskets

Follow these eight steps to creating a hanging beauty that will last from fall through spring.

Preventing Bulb Pests

Ugh—slugs! They're just one of the garden pests that can attack your flowering bulbs. Learn how to identify them and fight back.

Q&A: When Is It Too Late to Plant Bulbs?

If you miss the optimum planting time for spring-flowering bulbs, go ahead and plant them anyway.

Potted Bulbs as Christmas Gifts

Learn how to pot bulbs that will flower just in time for the holidays.

Q&A: Potted Orange Tree Sheds Fruit

Find out why the fruit may be falling off early.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.