What to Do with Unplanted Bulbs
I bought tulip, crocus, and scilla bulbs, but was not able to get them in the ground before freezing and snow. What can I do with the bulbs now?
You have several options. You can continue to store the bulbs in a cool location where the temperatures remain above freezing. Then plant the bulbs outdoors as soon as the soil is thawed and workable. If the plants received sufficient cold in storage, they will eventually flower for you this spring. If not, you will just get leaves but next year you should be rewarded with blooms. Or you can force them into bloom. Pot up the bulbs and give them 12 to 15 weeks of cold (35-45 degrees) treatment. The refrigerator makes a suitable cooler. Northern gardeners can store them in an unheated garage. I like to provide a bit of extra insulation by placing the pots in an insulated container (Styrofoam cooler) or surrounded by packing peanuts or other insulating materials. Don’t leave the pots sitting outdoors above ground in colder climates. If the soil temperature in the container drops below freezing the bulbs can freeze and die. You can move the containers into the landscape as your in-ground bulbs begin to sprout or enjoy an earlier spring indoors. After the cold treatment move them to a sunny window in a cool location. Water as needed and enjoy the blossoms. Continue to water and fertilize the plants after the flowers fade. Indoor forced bulbs can be planted outdoors after the danger of frost. They will bloom the second spring after forcing.