Forcing bulbs for a long-lasting, fresh holiday bouquet
What could be more fun and exciting than growing your own bulb garden filled with sweetly scented flowers right in your own living room. It's easy to do and if you plan ahead, you can even create a beautiful, fragrant centerpiece for your dining room table during the holidays!
Fresh "home-grown" flowers make a wonderful holiday gift for family, friends, or your favorite teacher!
Here's how you do it without using any messy potting soil!
First, you have to trick your bulbs into thinking that it's spring. One of the easiest bulbs to coax into bloom is the paperwhite narcissus. These delicate narcissus flowers have a giant-sized fragrance!!
- Choose a container without any drainage holes. I like to use a clear glass vase/container so I can see the roots of the bulbs growing. It makes it more interesting! Your container should be at least 5 inches deep. Many craft stores sell decorative glass containers or vases. For a nice display, get one wide enough to hold six bulbs spaced closely together (so they touch or almost touch each other). You could even choose one of the rectangular or round glass containers with tall sides that will keep your paperwhites from flopping over as the grow taller and flower.
- While you're at the craft store, look for some glass marbles or decorative pebbles that you can use as your "soil" to hold the bulbs in place in your container. Colorful, flat-sided marbles inside your glass vase will make a lovely container for your beautiful flowers. You can also use small clean stones or pea gravel.
- Choose your bulbs carefully. Buy good quality bulbs from a reputable garden store. If you are able to hand pick the bulbs, choose large, firm ones. These will give you the best show!
- Fill your container with about 2 inches of whatever you chose as your growing medium.
- Carefully place your bulbs on top of this so they touch (or almost touch) each other and are prefectly straight up. Nestle them down into the pebbles a little bit and then fill in around the bulbs with more pebbles. Do not cover the top of the bulb. Be sure at least 1/2 to 1/3 of the bulb is exposed.
- Now add water to the container so the level is just below the bottom of the bulbs. Do not let the bulbs sit in water or they may rot. Using a glass container makes it easy to see the level of the water. If you are using a solid container, just dig a small hole next to a bulb and estimate the level.
- Place your container in a cool room (55oF to 65oF) that gets low light or no light (a window-less room works well) until the roots begin to grow well and the shoots start showing - usually about 1-2 weeks. Keep an eye on the water level and replenish as necessary to keep the level just below the bottom of the bulbs.
- Once you have good root growth, move your bulbs into a warmer (about 68oF is perfect) bright, sunny window and watch them grow!
- When they begin to flower, move them out of direct sun so your blooms will last longer!
Your home will be filled with beautiful flowers and the refreshing aroma of spring in the middle of winter!
For an even bigger splash of color, try forcing Amaryllis bulbs!
A good quality bulb can produce up to 20 large flowers, some as large as 10" across!
Click here for information on forcing Amaryllis bulbs.