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Bring a Touch of Spring into your Home by Forcing Bulbs
By Monica Resinger
Forcing bulbs is a method of bringing a spring bulb into flower before its'
natural flowering season and out of its' natural surroundings. To force a
hardy bulb into flowering indoors, we need to trick it by mimicking what would
happen to it in its' natural surroundings.
Why would we want to do this?
To have flowers blooming inside your house in the bleak of winter can lift
your spirits and brighten up your home. If you force a fragrant bulb, such as
hyacinth, you will also scent your home with a wonderful aroma.
What bulbs can you force?
You can force just about any spring bulb including, but not limited to:
snowdrops, grape hyacinth, crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth. Catalogs
usually identify forcing varieties.
How do you force bulbs?
The only requirement in this department is cleanliness. When you are
choosing a container, keep in mind that clay dries out faster so you would
water more often. But, clay pots usually are more attractive, so the choice is
up to you.
If you are buying your bulbs from the garden center, choose bulbs as you
would produce at the grocery store. Don't buy a bulb that is squishy, has
blemishes, or small in size compared to others. Look for a firm, good-sized
that looks healthy. You will need a high quality bulb for forcing because the
bulb contains the food for the upcoming flower.
Groups of three to five look best. You can plant as many bulbs as will fit
in your container as long as the bulbs aren't touching each other or the edges
of the container.
A mixture of equal parts potting soil, sand, and perlite is best since bulbs
need moisture and drainage. If you would like to plant your bulbs outdoors
after forcing, add one teaspoon of 5-10-5 dry fertilizer to every quart of the
planting medium. Moisten the planting medium to a damp consistency before
Hyacinths and narcissus can be forced in pebbles and water with no
additional nutrients, but the bulb will never be able to flower again if using
method and should be disposed of after flowering. Put washed pebbles in the
bottom of a narrow glass container and cover with water. Set the bulb slightly
`into' the pebbles so it will stand. Bulbs should be cleaned before placing
them in the container. The container should be kept in a cool (45 to 50
degrees), dark location until tip growth is 3 to 4 inches long and the flower
emerges from the bulb. This may take 8 to 12 weeks. When the top growth is
well developed, move the container to a cool, bright window.
Fill your container half-full with the planting medium then set a bulb
pointed end up on top of the medium. If the tip of the bulb isn't level with
top of the container, add or take out soil to make it so. Plant bulbs pointed
end up and as close together as possible without letting them touch. Fill in
with planting medium and water well. Label the pot with the name of the bulb
and date of planting.
Place pots in a cool dark place such as a refrigerator or in an unheated
garage. If necessary, place a box or a black garbage bag over the pots to keep
them dark. Temperatures should be 35-48* F. Keep the soil moist during this
rooting and cooling period. After five to six weeks, the roots should start
coming out of the bottom of the containers of large hardy bulbs.
Out of Cold Storage
When shoots are two to three inches and there are fine white roots coming
out of the drainage holes, it's time to bring the pots out of cold storage.
This could take from 12-16 weeks. At this point, bring the pot to a cool room
such as an unheated bedroom where it will be in the 50`s. They will need
indirect light and adequate moisture. Feed weekly with half strength
fertilizer. Turn the pots every other day or so to keep the stem growing
straight. In a week or two the stems will grow taller and the buds will become
Into Bright Light
When the foliage and buds are well developed, bring them into a bright,
sunny window where the temperature is around 65*F. When they start to flower,
move them to indirect light to prolong the flowers.
When the bulbs have finished flowering, cut off the stem and move the pot
back to direct light. Keep the foliage growing until it starts to die back.
Don't pull off the dying leaves because these contain food for next years'
flowers. Stop watering and store the bulbs in a cool dry place until late
or early fall when they can be planted into the garden. By planting the bulb
into the garden, they will regain their strength and show healthy flowers in
the next season or two. If you want to force bulbs again, don't use the same
bulb as you did the year before because forcing weakens the bulb and the
flowers will be unsatisfactory. Instead, start over and shop for fresh,
Why not give it a try and bring a touch of spring into your home this
Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home
of many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and
more! _http://homemakersjournal.com/_ (http://homemakersjournal.com/)
Get a FREE Slowcooker Recipe E-book when you subscribe to Monica's FREE
e-zine for homemakers! To subscribe and receive instructions for picking up
FREE e-book, just send a blank e-mail to:
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