Forcing Bulbs For Winter Flowers is easy, fun and comes with a colorful reward. Winter flowering bulbs.
Source University of Minnesota October is the time of the year to begin potting your favorite spring bulbs to prepare them for winter flowering. Tulips, narcissus (daffodils), hyacinths, crocus, scillas, grape hyacinths, and lily of the valley are good choices and all can be forced into flower in late winter and early spring. A pot of tulips on the window sill can make a long cold winter easier to survive.
First, only top quality, good sized bulbs (bigger is better) should be used. Your neighborhood greenhouse operator will tell you the varieties that are best suited for forcing. Don’t mix varieties in the same container, since they vary in their dates of flowering.
Potting the bulbs in clean, sterile clay or plastic pots. Normally the “noses” of the bulbs are exposed. Do not bury the bulbs. The soil should be an open mixture of good (3 parts)garden loam, (2 parts)peat moss, and (1 part)sand. Don’t worry about soil fertility or feeding bulbs because they have enough stored food to flower one time.
Plant the bulbs close together in the pot. Usually 6 tulip bulbs, 3 hyacinths, 6 daffodils, or 15 crocus, will fit into a 6-inch pot. The flat side of the tulip bulb should be placed next to the rim of the pot since the largest leaf will always emerge and grow on that side, producing a more desirable looking pot.
It’s extremely important that bulbs be handled with care. Never allow the bulbs to be in temperatures above 65 degrees. The pot(s) should be loosely filled with soil. Don’t press the bulbs into the soil. Allow 1/4-inch or more of space at the top of the pot so it can be easily watered. The bulbs should be watered immediately upon planting, and thereafter the soil should never be allowed to become dry.
Forcing bulbs in Water Hyacinths, crocus, and narcissus also can be forced in water. Special clear, glass vases are made for hyacinths or crocus. The bulb is placed in the upper portion, water in the lower portion. The vase is then kept in a cool, dark room (preferably under 50 degrees F) for four to eight weeks until the root system has developed and the top elongates. At this point it should be placed in a bright window, where the plant soon will blossom.
Bunch flowering narcissus, such as Paper White and Soleil d’Or, can be grown in shallow pans of water filled with crushed rocks or pebbles. The bulbs should be secured in the pebbles deeply enough so that the basal plate is in contact with the water. Keep them in a cool, dark room for several weeks to ensure root growth, then place in a sunny location. Each bulb will send up several flower stems bearing many tiny blossoms.
Amaryllis Culture The amaryllis is a tender bulb that will bloom without special treatment when first purchased. It should be potted up in light, rich soil in a pot that is only 1–2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb. The upper half of the bulb should be exposed above the soil. After watering thoroughly, allow the soil to become quite dry. Water more frequently after the flower stalk appears, but never water when the soil is already moist. Put the plant in a warm, sunny spot until the flower buds show color, then move it out of direct sunlight.
After blooming, cut off the flowers to prevent seed formation. The foliage should be handled as if it were a sun loving houseplant. Place it in the brightest possible location indoors until it is warm enough to sink the pot in soil outdoors where it will receive dappled sunlight at first. Gradually move it to a brighter location where eventually it has full sun for at least five or six hours daily. Fertilize with a balanced houseplant food at regular intervals to build up the nutrients needed for blooming next year. Amaryllis should be brought indoors before the first frost in the fall.
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