Search

Forcing Bulbs for Winter Joy


The Holidays are a festive, family-filled time of the year, but let’s face it the days are dark and cold. Bring a little fragrance and color into your home by “forcing” bulbs to bloom. Forcing sounds like an aggressive action, but it’s really just encouraging a plant to flower at a time other than it naturally does by creating the proper environment.

The easiest of bulbs to force are Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus (aka Paperwhites) because they don’t require a chilling period. The process is easy, but does take some time, so plan ahead. Amaryllis should be ready to bloom 6-8 weeks after planting; Paperwhites 3-5 weeks after planting.

Here’s the step by step:

1. Choose a container large enough to accommodate the bulb and allow for 2-3” of root growth.

2. Fill the container half way with a good quality potting mix and water lightly.

3. Set the bulbs on the soil with the root side down and the pointed side up.

4. Add just enough potting mix to secure the bulbs (1/3 of the Amaryllis bulb and 1” of the

Paperwhite bulb should be above the soil line).

5. Water lightly and place in a dark place.

6. After about a week shoots should emerge.

7. Place the container in a warm, bright space and water as needed.

Bulbs can also be planted in a bowl or a special forcing glass (shaped like an hourglass):

1. Choose a container large enough to accommodate the bulb and allow for 2-3” of root growth.

2. Fill the container with a 3” layer of pebbles.

3. Set the bulbs on the pebbles with the root side down and the pointed side up.

4. Add just enough pebbles to secure the bulbs.

5. Add water so that it just reaches the base of the bulbs.

6. Place in a cool spot away from direct sunlight and check the water level daily.

7. When roots begin to develop, move to a bright, sunny window and check water level daily.

Hint: a teaspoon of vodka in the water will keep it fresh and clear.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.) produce large, dramatic, trumpet-shaped flowers held up by sturdy, hollow stems and wide, fleshy foliage. Depending on the variety some have one bloom, while others can have up to 4-5. They are available in white, red, burgundy, pink and variations of these colors, some with stripes and other markings. Note: All parts of Amaryllis are poisonous to dogs and cats, so it’s best to keep them where they can’t be reached by your pets.

Paperwhite Narcissus (Narcissus tazetta) produce small, star-shaped flowers with stout stems and grassy foliage. Varieties are mostly white, but light pink and pale yellow are available. Note: the fragrance of Paperwhite Narcissus is quite intense; so much so that I relegate them to the laundry room overnight.

Once blooming, bulbs need little care. Keep the soil moist and give the container a quarter turn each day for even growth. To extend bloom time, move containers to a cool location at night.

Most bulbs will be spent after being forced and should be discarded. If you find you cannot discard the bulbs after blooming, fertilize the container and continue watering to keep the soil moist. When the soil has warmed, plant them out in the garden, but don’t be disappointed if it takes several years before they bloom again.

By planting bulbs every two weeks, you can have a continuous show of fragrance and bloom until spring time. Forcing bulbs is a great project for young children and they make excellent gifts that they can proudly offer to a grandparent or teacher.

© 2020 by L3 = h2, Inc. Proudly created with Wix.com

This site was designed with the
.com
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now