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!

Keep Reading

Next Up

Selecting and Planting Flower Bulbs

From the purchase to maintaining them throughout the season, this simple guide to bulbs will help ensure garden success.

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 Bulbs

Planting spring-flowering bulbs is easy. The hardest part may be deciding which flowers and how many to plant in your garden.

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.

How To Choose, Plant and Grow Flowering Bulbs

From daffodils to dahlias, learn how to grow bulbs and fill your garden with big, beautiful color.

Grow Guide: Planting Bulbs

Gardening expert Felder Rushing offers tips on planting bulbs.

Q and A: Trouble Planting Garlic

Follow this tip on how to successfully grow garlic.

Tips for Planting Bulbs

How to choose the best bulbs and give them a good start.

How to Plant Bulbs

Learn to plant bulbs in your garden with this step-by-step guide.

1,000+ Photos

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

On TV

Island Life

6:30am | 5:30c

Island Life

7am | 6c

Island Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Desert Flippers

1:30pm | 12:30c

Desert Flippers

2:30pm | 1:30c

Desert Flippers

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flip or Flop

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flip or Flop

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flip or Flop

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flip or Flop

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

House Hunters

8pm | 7c

House Hunters

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flip or Flop Vegas

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

Flip or Flop Vegas

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

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