Gardening Recommendations for Growing Bulbs in Colder Zones
Since Three Rivers is based in New Hampshire, we are all too familiar with gardening in colder zones! And we have good news for you—just because a summer-flowering bulb is winter hardy in zones 8 and above doesn’t mean you can’t grow it in your zone. Read on to learn more about growing these spring-planted bulbs in zones 3 through 7.
Container gardening in colder zones
One of the best ways to grow less hardy summer blooming bulbs in colder zones is to plant them in containers. Dahlias are a perfect choice for container gardening. Unwin’s Mix and Yellow Mignon Dahlia would look beautiful in containers.
Grow Freesia in a container outdoors in the summer, then force another blooming in winter. When the plant finishes blooming at the end of the season and turns brown, cut back the foliage and store the container indoors through late fall. Allow the potted bulbs to rest for six to seven weeks in an unheated basement or garage where the temperature is about 50° to 55° Farenheit. Once the leaves begin to emerge, move the container into a warmer, sunlit spot in your home for the winter. Choose a spot that receives good sunlight but isn’t too hot. Be sure to water and fertilize regularly. A 20-20-20 fertilizer is a good choice.
Growing warm zone perennials as annuals in colder zones
Dahlias may be perennials in zones 8 and above, but you can still grow them in colder zones 3 through 7 by treating them as annuals. Plant them in late spring, enjoy the flowers through summer, then dig up the bulbs and add to your compost pile. Or you can store the bulbs indoors through the winter to plant again in spring. Be especially careful when digging up Dahlia bulbs, though, as they are a bit more tender.
Storing bulbs through winter
To store bulbs through winter, first lift them gently with a pitch fork and dust off the excess soil. Divide them if needed, but this is probably not necessary for the first season. Place the bare roots in a warm, dark location to dry for five to seven days. Once the bulbs are dry, pack them in peat moss, sand, or sawdust and store in a ventilated container. Good air circulation is essential to prevent mold. Do not allow the bulbs to freeze or become too damp. The ideal storage temperature is 50° Farenheit, so an unheated basement or garage is a good location.
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