Refrigerating entire potted plant to simulate winter chill

mae43February 26, 2012

Just wondering if this would work - I live in southern California but I love lillies of the valley. Since they need prolonged winter chill, I've never seriously considered trying to grow them here.

But, just thinking about it now - what if I planted the pips in a few clay pots and them stuck them, pot and all (easier than digging them up) into a frig in the garage along about December for their winter chill? Anybody know if that would work?

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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

They do not need winter chill. They do need a lot of water in the afternoon and a soil with lots of compost. They live to be watered every afternoon, if it is hot, and of course, they need shade. If they needed a prolonged winter chill why would I be able to grow them? I leave mine in the ground all year. They do not like to get dug up and messed with.

Here is a link that might be useful: my lily of the valley photos

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 6:11PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

San Francisco is much colder than Southern California, Tropicalthought. Lilies of the Valley do not grow in most of Socal.

Mae, I think they suffer from our summer heat. I recommend buying them in bloom and enjoying them that way.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 6:47PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Could you try planting in shade in compost rich soil and watering every afternoon? In San Francisco we only go to the 40s at night in the winter. They said it could not be done, but I proved them wrong. My first attempts failed because I did not water them enough. Do you have any deep shade? Do you have any 100 percent shade?

San Francisco is near the water, so we don't get winter chill, but inland it can freeze at night, here it does rarely. It depends San Diego would probably not work great, but it could not hurt to try.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:12PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Tropical Thought,
Do you water them regularly all year or do they have a dormant/dry period?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:49PM
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I read online that they aren't successful in warmer climates because they are supposed to get something like 14-15 weeks of winter chill. I read somewhere that you should dig them up, get the soil off and put them in the frig.

But I wondered, well, if they do well in the colder climates while in the ground, why not just plant them in pots, leave them in the pots when they days start getting shorter and put the whole kit and kaboodle in the frig.

Maybe they would have a tough time getting through the summer, before they made it to fall. I wonder if they should stay moist while in the frig??

I think I will try this little experiment with two or three pots and see what happens. I have a perfect shady ledge that I can put the pots on. If they don't make it next spring, no great loss.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 11:51PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I water them all year long, since I have other ferns and things growing all year in the shade, and they do better when they get more water all year. I don't over water in in the dormant time, but they do not seem to rot at all. I had so many I moved them and next year, they did worse. I don't think they like to be moved, but some came back. I wish I had friend who had wanted them at that time I could have given away a lot. I started with only three of them and grown to like 50 plants. If they get water they keep expanding all winter, so they look like they are just doing nothing, but they are expanding under the ground. Since we don't freeze here. If we have a little frost on the ground, the ground never freezes, so they are protected from freeze.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 12:02PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

mae43 no one answered your question directly. I have chilled in the pot, many times, not lily of the valley, because we have sufficient chilling here. I am sure it will work for you, go for it. Al

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Calistoga, thanks for the advice!

I am going to try it out on a few pots and see what happens. IF it doesn't work out, I haven't lost anything, but it makes sense to me that it would.

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 12:26PM
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Mae43, Another note, keep ripening fruit (botanical definition, so includes tomatoes) out of the refrigerator if you are trying to chill anything. Root vegetables and leafy greens are generally okay.

You also might think about a zone descriptor (particularly a generalized western plant climate zone - aka "Sunset Zone") since "Southern California" covers a huge amount of real-estate and there are varying definitions - some places call Camarillo "central coast" even though we are at almost the same latitude as downtown L.A. and further south than many of its suburbs.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 10:45AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I am in zone 10, so you could try to leave them in the ground, unless you have like a patio situation and a lack of ground space. They dislike being moved or transplanted. I am also in sunset zone 17, we may have some cold days but it is not a prolonged winter chill. Tulips don't work for me, they won't rebloom, but I think lily of the valley is mistakenly put down as needed prolonged winter chill, like a tulip. If they are in pots already, then why not put them in the basement.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 1:34PM
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