Will tulip bulbs survive if I plant them in a boat in USDA zone 5? This boat sits in my front yard and I plant annuals in it every year. It was my mother's boat and holds sentimental value. I was not sure if the bulbs could survive during the winter.

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    How big is this boat (as compared to the frost line in your area)? How is it mounted (in the air, resting on the ground, etc.)? Does it have good drainage (tulips don't like it wet)?
    – Niall C.
    Nov 4 '14 at 16:11
  • Not sure about in a boat, but they survive in the ground in a zone 5 that's more like zone 4. :) Nov 5 '14 at 22:10

I feel I should add some information about tulips. I live in the Pacific Northwest and a few years ago I went to the tulip festival in LaConner, Washington. I know a lot about plants but we had a Master Gardener leading our tour and I was blown away when she told us that tulips produce a toxin in the soil that reduces their own vigor slowly killing the bulbs of the tulips themselves!

For the tulip displays these tulip professionals plant in soil 2-4" deep in trays. This is so every single year they can fairly easily change the soil to grow luscious, vigorous tulips for the displays (which are mind-boggling beautiful). In the fields, they grow the bulbs one year and replant with something non-tulip. Once the tulip has grown in a soil once that soil should never be used to grow tulips again.

Weird, weird plant. For your house boat I would plant mass tulip bulbs in trays. Try to limit your colors/varieties to just a few for more bang for your buck. Don't plant in single rows. Replace the soil (POTTING SOIL ONLY!), replant the bulbs, cover with newspaper for the next spring.

If you think that is a lot of work, it is. Another great idea that I have seen on house boats is sedum also planted in trays. Don't have to do much except make dang sure you've got great drainage, don't ever overwater, fertilize very sparingly and every year you'll thank me, grin! Absolutely gorgeous! The colors keep changing and the fall is spectacular in color! What a great project! Have you seen what I am talking about? It became so popular most nurseries actually provide trays with a good selection of sedums that have already been successful. People use them as framed 'pictures' on outdoor walls as well as 'roof tops' on house boats.

  • You mean tulipalin a and b? Not so big a deal as you make out, I have some neighbors whose tulips have been in the ground nearly 30 years now, and multiply and spread like daffodils. Uncommon in my area, but there you go. :) I don't think it's a big enough deal to worry about, unless you are observing symptoms of the toxins, which is actually uncommon.
    – J. Musser
    Nov 6 '14 at 21:35
  • Then why go to all the trouble they go through at tulip farms? I have seen old tulips in old beds. They look old. They just aren't the vigorous plant and flower they were the first year. And amazingly, all the old tulips I've seen all look alike; rose-colored and spindly. I was shocked about this fact of tulips. I won't grow them anymore, daffodiles are far more naturalizing. And to only get a year from an investment is sad. I am sure the tulip people re-thought having professionals divulge this little factoid, grin.
    – stormy
    Nov 6 '14 at 22:26
  • Again, my neighbors tulips are almost 30 years old, and are 8-10" down. They are the tallest tulips I've ever seen (except in pics from Holland), and the flowers are bright, large and true to type.
    – J. Musser
    Nov 6 '14 at 22:29
  • Are you sure they have never added bulbs? And tall is also called spindly, grin! I have a hard time understanding this thing with tulips, it just isn't 'natural'...I've a 3" thick book on tulips I got to read but had to go to storage where I can't access it. Didn't us humans have something to do with tulips? Well, people were killed, fortunes lost on a very large scale for sure. But did we find tulips, cultivate them and enhance this singularly horrid trait? I'll have to look it up. Fascinating plant with lots of history!
    – stormy
    Nov 6 '14 at 22:41
  • Yes I'm sure they didn't add bulbs. In fact, they have tried digging them out on a couple different occasions, and they keep growing back. Crazy plants...
    – J. Musser
    Nov 6 '14 at 22:43

Don't know if this could help, but, just as information, I have some tulips in plane ground, very deep, actually (after some years they were planted, some soil was added because of works to the garden; I believe that they are more then 50-70 cm deep, now). Some years ago, they survived to a very cold winter, during which temperature reached -24°C.

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