Growing tulips from bulbs indoors in winter?
January 14, 2014 3:02 PM   Subscribe

So I ordered some tulip bulbs which I was planning on planting before the ground froze (U.S. zone 5b) but it got backordered and I forgot about it. Then they arrived a month ago and I put them away and forgot about them again. Now they look like this and this. So. I'm wondering if I can or should grow them indoors or put them somewhere cold until next Fall? As you can see they've started to "sprout" and after reading a bit about "forcing" bulbs, I wonder if they've already reached a point where I need to do something with them.
posted by gwint to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I work for a flower bulb company, and even though I'm in IT, I think I know this one!

Unfortunately there's not much you can do at this point, and I wouldn't recommend forcing those now because you'll damage the sprout. What will probably happen now is that they'll grow and never flower, or (like when we have mild winters) they'll be stunted.

Not to plug my employer, but bulbs being delivered too late for planting is something we do everything to avoid. I'd call up your supplier and see what they can do to make it right. Unless a customer orders late, bulbs being delayed until December for 5B is crazy talk.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 3:29 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ya know, I think I'd try wrapping them in some peat moss, stuffing them in a paper or mesh bag and sticking them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator just to try to slow down the sprouting. The fridge is cold, but above freezing, so this might work. In the spring, as soon as you can work the ground, dig a bed about 12" deep, sprinkle in a bit of bone meal and some composted manure, plunk in the bulbs and cover with dirt. You may not get blooms this year (although you might! who knows?), but deep-planted tulips can give several years of bloom, so next year might be a go. I have red tulips I planted 12" deep thirteen years ago that still come up and give a show, though much less of one than the first five years or so. The deep planting prevents the squirrels from digging them up and keeps them relatively dry during their dormant period in the summer so the bulbs don't rot. Give it a try; what could it hurt?
posted by miss patrish at 3:40 PM on January 14, 2014

Contact the supplier. Backordered bulbs sent to a 5b zone in December is not right. They should refund your money.
posted by barnone at 3:46 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you do put them in the fridge, don't put them next to apples. More here at the National Gardening Association's site.

Also nthing calling the supplier, but miss patrish's advice sounds about right to me.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:51 PM on January 14, 2014

You should absolutely contact the supplier, too, but they're unlikely to ask you to ship the bulbs back; they'll either replace them or give a refund/credit, so . . . you'll still have sprouty bulbs to play with! Lovely Queen of the Night bulbs! I got about seven years out of my QotN bulbs before rejiggering the adjacent iris beds disappeared them.
posted by miss patrish at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2014

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