January 7, 2012

Is This Supposed to Happen?

It's January.  It's been cold.  A few nights ago it got down to 8 degrees F (- 13 C).  But mostly this season it's been above normal for winter, and it's unsettling.

The tulips are coming up.  Is this supposed to happen in January?

The unheated porch, where I store dormant plants for the winter, has been 30 degrees F at night and in the 40s in the daytime, sometimes up in the 50s in this warmer than normal winter.  I know because I keep a thermometer out there and check it.  When I looked yesterday, I saw green nubs coming up through the soil.

Last fall I planted tulips in pots, having given up on using them in the ground, where they are dinner for so many garden visitors.

I put the pots on the unheated porch and now, in January they are sprouting.

I planted six 'Spring Green' (white with green markings) in the center of each pot, and surrounded those with twelve 'Groenland' (pink with strong green markings).  I crowded them together to mass them, then topped the pot with several inches of potting mix.

These are viridiflora tulips, with blooms that are streaked with green, which I think is a soft and interesting take on the bold colors that tulips can sport.

'Spring Green'
I am no bulb expert.  My experience with tulips is limited mostly to planting them in fall and regretting them in spring when they don't show up.

Perhaps I planted too early?  My journal shows I planted up these pots on September 30.  Too soon?

Perhaps they needed to be deeper?  I covered them with several inches of potting soil, but it is loose and crumbly and maybe they needed to be a good 8 to 10 inches deep?

Bulb growers out there -- what should I do?

I left the pots outside originally but the very wet fall drowned them and I thought the bulbs would rot in their perpetually soggy pots, so they came into the unheated porch.
Should I cover the pots to keep them in the dark and hope they don't sprout further?  Put them back outside where it is consistently 10 degrees colder?

Leave them alone and enjoy tulips on the porch at Valentine's Day?

The times I tried to grow tulips in the ground, they got eaten and never came up.  Now, planted in pots, they are coming up in early January.  My next experiment may be to buy hand painted silk tulips --- if I can just find any with green markings.


  1. I have daffodils up like this in my garden too. I would just leave them as they are. Maybe if you put them outside now so it is a little cooler it will slow them down. It is just a weird winter so far. I am not complaining though. It has been nice to not freeze when you go outside.

  2. My Easter Lilies are all up out of the ground by about 5 inches. Last year they didn't show their heads until April, and didn't bloom by Easter. This year they are going to beat Easter by a couple months at the rate they are going.

  3. From what I understand further south all sorts of plants are springing to life that shouldn't be so it may not be anything you've done wrong. I wonder about the amount of light though, perhaps a darker location would slow their growth? (now I'm wondering if I should check my bulbs out of doors, this is such a strange year)

  4. Your bulbs sound like they are on a NC schedule. I haven't grown tulips in 25 years, but daffs and other bulbs will often start to come up in Jan and even Dec without any ill effects.

  5. No worries - sprouting and blooming aren't always on the same schedule. My bulbs always pop up up in Jan and then don't bloom till they're supposed to. Stick them outside to get colder and they'll slow down. I have a bunch of pots of bulbs that haven't sprouted yet while the ones in the ground have stuck their little green heads up. Just like my drumstick alliums!!

  6. Same here. The bulbs are just starting to show and some years are like this. We should get snow cover to cover them though. I think they will adapt to the weather, it is much better than letting them get too wet.

  7. They will look awesome in those pots when they bloom!!! I wouldn't worry about them, but I like the advice above about putting them outside where it is cooler.

  8. i mentioned yellowroot in my last post and linked it to your blog. :o)

  9. Thanks to all for weighing in. The consistent advice seems to be to let these go, maybe put them outside for a little chillier environment, and then just step back and wonder at the vagaries of nature.

    My snowdrops are fully up and in bloom, and like others of you who commented, my daffodils are coming up now too. I have to keep checking the calendar to see it is still early January!

  10. Hi Laurrie, Happy New Year! Yesterday was so mild and sunny here that it felt like spring had arrived in January. I would think that the warm temperatures and lack of snow was wonderful if I did not know that pollution was behind it.
    I see that you have lots of great advice on your sprouting bulbs. Isn't it great to have such a network of supportive gardening friends!

  11. On growing spigelia - my patch grows in between two crepe myrtles that offer high filtered shade. I keep the interiors thinned via branch pruning to keep that part of my garden from looking like a dungeon. They get a few chunks of full sun in late morning. They are in moistish, well draining, acidic soil and have to compete with the myrtles for water. Try, try again!!!

  12. I have bulbs trying to come up too. They think it is spring here because of the warmer temps this January. A lot of gardeners have reported their bulbs trying to start. They will be alright.


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