Let it Grow: Have fun forcing blooms on indoor bulbs

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Let’s do something fun. Let’s force some bulbs to bloom.

This doesn’t mean holding a gun on them and screaming, &8220;BLOOM, BULBS.&8221;

I mean setting the stage for making your summer and spring bulbs bloom indoors in order to have some color and sweet aroma to enjoy.

Basically, you can get all bulbs to bloom now.

The most popular for the holiday season are hyacinths, paperwhites and amaryllis.

I like to see daffodils blooming on Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice. It always makes the shortest day of the year more pleasant to see the hope of spring on my kitchen table.

Some bulbs require a chilling period before forcing. These include hyacinths, daffodils, crocus and tulips. Buy your bulbs from a reputable independent retail nursery.

They usually carry only the No. 1-grade bulbs and have already been pre-chilled.

Ask the expert at the store if this is the case.

If the bulbs are not pre-chilled, place them in a paper bag in the refrigerator for at least 16 weeks.

If you fail to do this, your flowers will not fully develop. Do not store them with fruit. As fruit ripens, it gives off ethylene gas and will cause your bulbs to rot.

Force-bloomed bulbs look better in a shallow pot. I like to use bulb pans for mine.

Place the bulbs in a good quality potting medium and make sure they have at least two inches of soil under the bulbs.

Crowd the bulbs together so you will have a good showing of color. Don’t overwater.

Place your pot in a bright area of the house, away from drafts, and watch them grow.

Bulbs that do not require pre-chilling are paperwhites and amaryllis.

Paperwhites are tropical and will not re-bloom. Amaryllis can be planted outdoors after they finish blooming.

Have fun with forcing bulbs. They make great holiday gifts, too.

For more on these and other gardening tips listen to Home Grown Tomatoes every Saturday morning from 6-8 on 101.1 FM and log on to HGTradio.net