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I got a little bit over-excited buying bulbs from the Northern Hemisphere (I'm based in the Southern Hemisphere). I am due to recieve some 245 bulbs/corms in December/January. Hopefully they survive the journey to the South Atlantic, but I've decided to take the risk since the local garden centre has stopped stocking any flower bulbs.

Now, my problem is that I live in a rental house, which has a sizeable garden, but it was never properly maintained by the previous owners or the landlords so it is overrun with dandelions and that horrible clumpy grass (maybe Tall Fescue). Naturally, I resent planting all of these beautiful bulbs for them to be left to benefit the landlords once we move out. Therefore, when ordering the bulbs I had two criteria:

  1. They are suitable for containers.
  2. They are sustainable i.e. perrenial and can naturalise so I'm not just throwing them away after a year.

Here is the list of what I am expecting and quantities:

Tulipa

  • Purisimma - 15
  • Ballerina - 15
  • Little Beauty - 15
  • Peppermintstick - 30
  • Cairo - 15
  • Havran - 10

Narcissus

  • Sir Winston Churchill - 15
  • Tete-a-Tete - 30
  • Narcissus bulbocodium White Petticoat - 20

Crocus chrysanthus Advance - 25

Iris Purple Hill - 40

As far as my research has taken me, all of the above (apart from Tulipa Cairo & Havran) should fit my criteria.

Now onto my question:

The ones that naturalise, especially the tulips, does that mean I can leave them in the pots I initally plant them into year after year (mulching with fresh compost in autumn), or do I need to lift them every year when they die back and then pot them again in autumn?

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  • Hi, this site works as one question and answers. Please edit it to ask one question. You are welcome to ask totally different questions on the other issues. Nov 9, 2023 at 2:35
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    okay, I can, they are all related but sure Nov 9, 2023 at 11:18
  • @watermineporcupine one approach is to use this question as a detailed explanation of the situation and and link to it in further questions after summarizing it with one sentence.
    – Vorac
    Nov 16, 2023 at 10:20

1 Answer 1

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The good news

Plant crocus and iris at 4" after you place tulip and daffodil at 6-8". Medium pots of 10"-18" are fine. You may plant indoors when they arrive but do not water until cool weather. Feed then and bring them out.

The bad news

Tulips DO NOT perennialize well despite catalog claims. Species Little Beauty and Peppermint do better (also less tasty to rabbit and deer), with Purissima worse (Oh, Emperor tulips come back!) and Ballerina worst.

So, lift them when foliage is very yellow (June), to rest in paper bags in cool basements. Or bring in the whole pot to dry out. Then refresh by topping off with fresh soil in Fall. Feed in Fall, then before and after Spring bloom.

My experience is in USDA Zone 6 in acidic clay soil, the least favorite for bulbs used to light peat and sand of Asia Minor and Holland.

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    Species tulips do in fact perennialize - Tulipa humilis 'Little Beauty' and Tulipa clusiana 'Peppermint Stick' are species tulip cultivars and should indeed perennialize - in the ground and in areas with cold winters. The others may or may not come back - again, in the ground and in areas with cold winters.
    – Jurp
    Nov 8, 2023 at 22:32
  • so if I want them to perennialise they should be in the ground, not in pots? We have quite cold winters here so if I leave them outside in frost-proof terracotta that should have the same effect as leaving them in the ground, no? Nov 9, 2023 at 11:23
  • Also following on from the pot size reccomendations, should I be looking at containers that are approx 30cm (~12in) tall in this case to be able to fit tulips and daffodils at a depth they are happy with? Nov 9, 2023 at 12:52
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    For plants that thrive instead of dwindling (= perennialize), "in the ground" handles Winter better for slower freezing and thawing. But for those that wane each year (most tulips), it's the Summer wetness that challenges them. Native to Turkey, Syria, and Israel, they long for a long, dry season of rest. Bulbs lifted or pots brought in match the drought better. Nov 9, 2023 at 15:23

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