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I bought some Freesias in the spring last year and planted them in a wooden planter. All spring and summer, I didn't see any signs of life, even though they got watered regularly. Then in the fall of last year, they started to grow. They stayed green all winter, probably because (a) I had them on my porch, and (b) it was a mild winter here. They flowered in the spring this year as expected, then died down.

It's now October and they're sprouting again!

picture of a wooden planter with several freesia shoots

We had cool and wet springs here both years, but the summers were very different: last year stayed cool for most of the summer, while this year was warm and the good weather lasted until early October.

Why would they be doing this? Is there anything that I can do to get them on a normal "grow in spring" schedule? And since I can't count on another mild winter, what can I do to protect them (the planter is a bit too big and outdoorsy to be taken indoors)?

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"It's now October and they're sprouting again!" -- as they should be.

Most freesias are native to the hot dry summer, moist winter portions of South Africa. Freesias normal cycle is to go dormant during the summer and resprout when temperatures moderate and the rains finally return.

They have summer dormancy period. I am not sure whether the bulbs need to dry out or must simply wait a certain number of days before they can regrow. They, however, do not require a cold period as most temperate zone bulbs do.

If you are concerned about the freesias surviving the cold this winter, you might park the container near the garage and be prepared to wheel the container inside if the temperature dips below 25ºF (-4ºC). Usually, an unheated garage will provide enough protection for a few cold nights.

Alternatively, keeping the bulbs dry should keep them from respouting in the fall. If you wait until the worst of winter passes before moistening the soil, you might be able to keep them dormant until early spring.

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this isn't that uncommon of a strategy... grape hyacinth comes to mind... don't worry about trying to keep them dormant they need the energy that they will be picking up, also when the root regrowth happens. –  Grady Player Oct 16 '12 at 21:48

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