How To Overwinter Daffodil Bulbs

Brush off any dried dirt before putting the dry bulbs in a ventilated bag, such as a mesh veggie bag or a nylon stocking, for daffodil bulb curing and storage. Daffodil bulbs should be kept in a garage or a cold, dry basement. Make sure the bulbs are not placed in areas that are moist, cold, very hot, or in direct sunlight.

After the bulbs have had time to cure until the following planting season, examine them and throw away those that didn’t make it through the storage period. Four to six weeks before to the first expected frost in your location, replant the bulbs.

Can bulbs be kept in pots during the winter?

I consider the beauty and drama they will bring to the landscape the following spring when I plant bulb containers in the autumn. These planted pots will not only serve as focus points around the garden but also serve as a welcoming sight for guests at the entrances and a splash of vibrant color in the spring garden.

Any bulb can be grown in a container, but tulips are by far my favorite due to their straightforward shape and virtually limitless color options. Different types of bulbs can coexist in the same container as long as they bloom at the same time. Otherwise, the later-flowering bulb’s display will be spoiled by the earlier bulb’s fading foliage. For the most impact, I like to plant only one kind of bulb per pot. By selecting bulbs with varying bloom periods, we can enjoy a succession of blooms from the beginning of March until the middle of May.

Plant bulbs in containers in fall

Our bulbs are planted in well-draining containers in late October. I can grow 50 tulips, 30 large-flowered daffodils, 50 tiny-flowered daffodils, or 100 small bulbs, such as Crocus, Muscari, Scilla, or Iris species or cultivars, in a 24-inch pot. In order to keep the bulbs in soil that is moist but not soggy, I fill the container with a soil mixture that drains extremely well. I plant the bulbs at a soil depth twice as much as the diameter of the bulb, precisely as I would in the ground.

I layer the bulbs when planting different types of bulbs in the same container if their planting depths differ (illustration at right). I place the larger bulbs in the container once it is filled to the correct level, cover them with soil, then wait until it is time to plant the smaller bulbs. I then add soil to the container, being careful to allow at least a half-inch space between the soil’s surface and the top of the container for watering.

I thoroughly water the planted container and continue to water it throughout the winter. The soil shouldn’t be too wet for the bulbs to sit in, but you also don’t want it to be completely dry.

Layering bulbs in containers

Put the larger bulbs first, cover them with dirt, and then plant the smaller bulbs in a container to grow a variety of bulbs. Just below the rim of the container, add soil.

Overwintering methods depend on where you live

In containers, overwintering bulbs is rather simple in Seattle gardens. Since stoneware pots may be kept outside during the winter, I primarily use them. Our mild winters enable us to tightly combine the pots in our nursery and leave them outside for the whole of the year.

For colder winter climes, more robust containers composed of stone, cast concrete, fiberglass, cast iron, or plastic are appropriate. In colder regions of the country, you might encircle the pots with firmly packed straw or bury them in sawdust before covering them with a thick layer of mulch (18 inches or more). Alternately, you may keep them in a garage or outbuilding that won’t get too cold but also won’t become hot during the day.

You have another choice if your winter is simply too harsh to risk leaving the bulbs out or if you wish to utilize bulbs in a container that cannot be stored in the cold. Plant your bulbs in 6- or 8-inch plastic pots, and protect them from the elements by storing them outside (in a cold frame, for example) or in a cold garage.

The pots can then be inserted into bigger display containers as they begin to bloom in the spring. When the threat of a hard frost has gone or the underground bulbs have begun to sprout in the spring, move your containers outside.

I put all the bulbs in the garden, excluding the tulips, after the flowers have faded and the spring festival is done. I compost tulips since they don’t grow nicely in later years. Then I start planning the kinds I’ll grow in the fall for the show the following year.

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How can I keep the bulbs from my daffodils in pots?

Treat the forced daffodil bulbs like you would cherished garden plants. The daffodils will be able to produce more energy for creating a big, strong bulb if you provide them with better growing conditions. Daffodils can be successfully moved after blossoming if they are prepared in the early spring.

When the blossoms start to wilt and die, cut them off. This will stop energy from being used to produce potential seeds. Place the potted plants in a cool, sunny spot, and make sure the soil is always moist but not soggy. As long as the leaves are still green, grow them as a houseplant.

Dig up the bulbs and keep them in a paper bag in a cool, dark area until fall after the leaves have dried and fallen off. The bulbs should be planted directly into the garden if you don’t have a place to preserve them. Keep the ground moist and plant them 8 inches (20 cm) deep to promote the development of healthy roots.

You can apply the knowledge you gain about daffodil transplantation to any other forced bulb you might be given as a gift. Between the Christmas season and the beginning of spring, amaryllis, crocus, and tulips are popular gifts. Transplanting all of these bulbs outdoors will gradually expand your perennial garden with very little additional work.

How should daffodil bulbs be winterized?

It’s time to prepare your daffodil bulbs for spring and store them. Your dry, clean daffodil bulb or bulbs should be placed in a paper bag with a label. In order to prevent the bulbs from growing, this stops too much light from entering. Keep the bag open just enough to let some air inside.

Do daffodils survive the winter in pots?

A beautiful way to appreciate the beauty of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowers is to plant spring-blooming bulbs in pots. If you have a limited amount of time, mobility, or outdoor space, this is a perfect alternative. Bulbs may be grown in containers, which gives you additional opportunities to play around with color and bloom time even if you currently plant them in your garden and landscape. Additionally, potted bulbs make it simple to share your enthusiasm for gardening with neighbors and friends.

Container Options

As long as the container has a drainage hole in the bottom and enough area for the bulbs, almost any kind of container will do. Spring bulbs always look lovely in terracotta pots. Inexpensive nursery pots also work well, especially if you can drop them into a more decorative pot as the flowers come into bloom. In general, you should match the blooms’ size to the pot’s size. Crocus and muscari should be planted in tiny pots, hyacinths in medium-sized pots, and tulips and daffodils in bigger pots.

Planting Depth and Spacing

Check the packet for planting depth directions. However, using the specified depth will help the flowers stand tall. Bulbs in pots can be planted more shallowly than bulbs in the ground. Make sure to leave space under the bulbs for root growth of at least 2″. The bulbs should be placed close together, no more than an inch apart. The flat side of tulip bulbs should be placed out for the greatest appearance.


Before they will produce fully formed flowers, the majority of fall-planted bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses, need to be frozen for 8 to 12 weeks. The soil should be persistently chilly, but above freezing, at 35 to 45F during this chilling period. Daffodils can handle being frozen for brief periods of time, but most other bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths cannot.

Never plant bulbs in compost or garden soil. Use a high-quality soilless growth medium instead, like ProMix. Before filling the pots, thoroughly moisten it (warm water works best).


Water the area just enough to help the soil settle once the bulbs have been planted. The soil should be moist during the chilling time but not drenched. Containers kept outdoors may require protection from excessive moisture depending on the climate. Cover the pot tops with wire mesh or a piece of plywood if pests like squirrels and mice are a concern.

Where to Store the Containers

The hardest aspect of the process might be locating a suitable location to store the containers over the winter. The bulbs must be cool without freezing. Hyacinths and tulips often won’t tolerate being frozen for an extended period of time, although daffodils and some of the smaller bulbs might.

Outdoor temperatures may not be cold enough for healthy flower development if you reside in growing zones 9–10. The bulbs must be chilled before planting, or you can plant the bulbs first and then refrigerate the containers.

You might be allowed to just leave the containers outside in growth zones 7 and 8. The pots may need to be covered if you live somewhere with wet winters to prevent the soil from becoming soggy. For a minimum of 8 weeks, the outside temperature must be between 35 and 45F for plants to blossom healthily. The blossoms may be stunted or malformed if the temperature is not low enough or the cold doesn’t endure long enough.

You might be able to insulate the containers in zones 5 and 6 by burying them, wrapping them in bubble wrap, or placing them in a cold frame. Bulb containers can also be kept in an adjoining garage if the temperature is high enough to prevent the soil from freezing. Be mindful that flower bulbs might be stunted or destroyed by exhaust fumes.

The best place to keep bulbs in zones 3 and 4 is a cold cellar or second refrigerator. Another choice is to bury the pots in your vegetable garden by digging a shallow trench and covering them with a substantial layer of leaves or straw. To keep mice and voles away from the bulbs, you might need to cover them with hardware cloth.

Waking the Bulbs

Start keeping an eye out for the bulbs to sprout as spring approaches. Bring the pots out into the light after you notice green sprouts and exhibit them inside or outside, in the sun or the shade. The life of the blooms will be prolonged by cool temperatures and indirect light.


Spring bulbs grown in containers are typically treated like annuals. Remove the spent flowers and keep the plants growing until the leaves has turned yellow if you wish to try keeping the bulbs. The bulbs should then be dug out and either planted again in your garden or saved in a cool, dry spot until the following fall. Each year, tulip bulbs need to be replaced.

What should I do with blooming daffodils in pots?

Once they have stopped flowering, potted daffodils that adorn porches and patios in the early spring require specific maintenance. As with in-ground blooms, faded flower stalks should be cut off, and the leaves should become yellow. The pot can be flipped over and relocated out of the way after six weeks.

Dry conditions are necessary for dormant daffodil bulbs to avoid rotting, and keeping the pot on its side prevents water from collecting inside. In the fall, turn it upright and start watering once more. Since the pot and its soil do not insulate the bulbs as well as the ground, take the pots into the garage or temporarily bury the base of the pot to shield it from the cold.

Can I remove daffodils and plant them elsewhere?

In response, daffodils can be pulled out and replanted as soon as the early summer foliage dies back (turns brown). In the fall, daffodils can also be dug up and replanted (October). If you want to transplant daffodil bulbs in the fall, note the location while there is still foliage so that the bulbs can be found in October.

How do I prepare bulbs for the following year?

Some bulbs, like tulips, prefer to be kept dry during the summer months while they are dormant. To create these circumstances, it is best to lift, dry, and store them until autumn, when they can be replanted.

Lifting and storing actual bulbs and corms:

  • When the foliage has gone down, carefully dig up the bulbs and remove any loose dirt.
  • Trim the loose, flaking tunic’s roots and outer layers.
  • Keep only large, healthy bulbs since they are more likely to bloom the following year; throw away any that are broken or infected.
  • To help prevent fungal rots from forming in storage, place the bulbs on a tray and let them dry for at least 24 hours.
  • The bulbs should be placed in labeled paper bags or nets and kept in a dry, cool environment.

Caring for older plants

Over time, clump-forming bulbs may get crowded, which may reduce flowering. To maintain the clumps healthy and flowering well, divide them every few years.

At the conclusion of the bulb’s growing season, you will just need to prune to get rid of extra seed heads and leaves.

True bulbs and corms

Although they are simple to spread, patience is needed. Most plants grow to flowering stage from seeds, chipped bulbs, or rooted bulb scales in two to seven years.

After flowering, clump-forming plants, like grape hyacinths and snowdrops, can be dug up, divided into smaller groupings, and replanted to create new colonies. These ought to establish themselves easily and bloom the next season.

How are bulbs prepared for the winter?

It’s a good idea to let thick, moisture-filled bulbs like canna or elephant ears air out a little before keeping them. This assists in avoiding decay while being stored. Place them in a cool, dry area after arranging them on screens or in mesh trays. If temps aren’t constantly below freezing, storing them in a shed or garage works great. On bright days, you may even arrange roots on a garden cart and transport them outside. Put the roots away for the winter once the sliced edges have sealed and they feel dry to the touch.

Pack bulbs for storage in sterilized dry (bagged) compost, perlite, milled peat moss, orshredded paper. Or, during the winter, hang them up or put them in crates with mesh bags. To absorb moisture and lessen the likelihood of rot, use many sheets of paper between layers of bulbs. Avoid digging while storing sensitive bulbs that are growing in pots and just store them in the soil. Prior to storing, remove the stems and leaves.