Too late for bulbs?

Hi all
I'm an idiot-level white-belt beginner gardener. I've just moved into a fantastic new place with a back yard. Since I grew up in Holland, I immediately thought "crocuses" and "tulips".
No-one in the UK will need telling that it's not really possible to dig and plant at the moment... (I'm in Glasgow: -10 most nights).
Is it too late for me to stick some crocus or tulip bulbs in, if we get a thaw in the next few weeks? Or do they need to sit in deep-frozen ground for a few months to start growing when things get warmer?
thanks!
seb
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seb

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If you can work the unfrozen soil then plant and water the bulbs and put a mulch a foot or more thick over the entire area (remove at first sign of spring emergence) you could get away with it.
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On 12/25/2010 10:43 AM, beecrofter wrote:

Does the ground in Glasgow freeze hard and deep in the winter? If not I wouldn't hesitate to get some bulbs in the ground and I wouldn't worry about super-thick mulching either -- just get the bulbs into the ground at the recommended depth (or even a hair more) in amended well-drained soil and add a normal covering of mulch (preferably dark-colored). A south-facing location up against a wall would be even better if you can manage it since it will provide a better micro-climate. I've gotten away with planting tulip and hyacinth bulbs in Anchorage, Alaska in November when the ground was on the verge of freezing solid after clearing snow from the bed and they came up perfectly and thrived for years. The great thing about bulbs at this time of year is, if you can find them, they are likely to be priced in your favor -- the garden center really wants to dispose of them. The choice may be bad but the prices often make up for that.
I suspect that the largest top-grade bulbs such as tulips and hyacinth and daffodil will respond better to this sort of treatment although I don't have enough evidence to swear to it. For certain I wouldn't want to be mucking about with tiny crocus or bluebell bulbs in the freeze -- just to fiddly for cold fingers.
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John McGaw;908392 Wrote:

Thanks for all your knowledge! I did say I'm a turning-up-to-the-dojo-for-the-first-time-wearing-the-wrong-clothes white-belt gardener, so I won't be embarrassed to ask: what does the mulch do, whether thick or thin? Presumably it doesn't do anything for nutrition - is it to do with preventing ground frost from penetrating deeply? But then I get the impression that bulbs _like_ being frozen.
@JohnMcGaw - your physical location puts the problems we've been having in Scotland into perspective! No, I don't think Glasgow generally gets bad ground-frost (though this year has been exceptional) - in the context of Scotland it's facing the Atlantic and Gulf Stream, and tends to be damp, wet and warmer. Two hours with a hairdryer on the pipe got my water supply back online the other day - and that problem was to do with 3m of air-exposed pipe crossing a sunken area, rather than ground frost.
I guess I'll see what my muscles and a fork can do with the earth once the thaw sets in (seems to be warmer already), get some bulbs cheaply in this off-season and stick them in. Love to know what the mulch is for.
--
seb

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Google "why use mulch in garden". If you still have questions, that will be the time to ask them.
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"seb" wrote

Hi Seb!

I'd develop them in pots set outside then plant them for real next year just after blooming.
I'm in a warm enough area I can still plant them, but the competing problem is I am so warm, they don't do as well unless you dig them up every winter and put them in the freezer.
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Your last question is pretty much the answer :-) The majority of spring flowering bulbs need an extended chill period in order to vernalize properly and produce flowers. That ranges anywhere from 12-20 weeks, depending on bulb type. So forget the fact your ground is frozen solid, you are pretty short on time to achieve this necessary chill period before the bulbs begin their normal bloom cycle. You *could* perhaps pot them up in containers now and store the containers in a cold but above freezing location but you are still pushing the time period required. And can you even find any bulbs this late in the year? In my area, spring flowering bulbs have been off the shelves and unavailable for sale for a couple of months now.
You may be able to find already started bulbs at local garden centers later in the season, closer to spring. These are purchased in containers like other perennial plants and are ideal for those wanting instant color in spring or those who have procrastinated in the planting of bulbs in fall. These are not necessarily forced bulbs but those that have been planted up and undergone a usual chill period. They can be planted out in the garden when available and will return annually like regular fall planted bulbs.
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