Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Forcing Bulbs IndoorsHave you ever smelled paperwhites? I'm talking about the tiny little white daffodils that are also called paperwhite narcissus. They have such a lovely clean white scent that if you've smelled them once that's probably all I'd need to mention to get you to plant them.

They're a bulb that's easy to "force" (or force to bloom) indoors and they're a winter bulb which is why I'm mentioning it now.

If you buy a bag at the store (they should be popping up in stores about now) you can be guaranteed pretty little flowers in time for Christmas by following a few easy steps.

Forcing Bulbs Indoors1. Prepare ahead of time. The bulbs take approximately 8 weeks to bloom, give or take, so if you want a beautiful Christmas arrangement you need to be buying bulbs next month.

2. Buy the bulbs--paperwhite narcissus or amaryllis are the easiest for the holidays. Those are my favorites for winter and the amaryllis can be very dramatic in pink, red, white or striped. I grew some last year you can see here.

3. Plant the bulbs closely together, pointed end up, in a pot filled with decorative rocks or marbles such as aquarium rocks, small glass beads or other small heavy particles. You can use soil too as long as you don't cover the bulbs too much because they will rot.

4. Water them well and keep the soil moist or the rocks with the water level at the base of the bulbs.

5. Place them in a sunny window sill and let them do their thing. However, once the paperwhites reach a growth of 1-2 inches pour off the water (if you're using rocks and water rather than soil) and replace the water with a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 parts water. You want to get a solution that is about 4-6% alcohol which will stunt the plants growth and keep them from growing so tall they flop over.

6. Once the flowers have bloomed and faded stick them in a sunny place to store up energy in the leaves before they too eventually die back in about 6 weeks. Then if you want you can plant them again though it will be another 2 or 3 growing cycles before they'll have enough energy to bloom again.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions--for the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for Children.

Technorati tags: bulbs, gardening

13 comments:

chelle said...

That is so cool!! You have the neatest experiences!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

What a cheerful way to fight off the dark cold of winter. :)

planetnomad said...

I thought you had to mess with their little minds by putting them in the freezer for 6 weeks so they thought they'd had a winter? I tried that several times in Mauritania, with daffodils (my fav spring flower) and it never worked. :( Maybe my method was flawed? Wish I'd brought paperwhite bulbs with me--I love them too.

Maddy said...

I force Hyacinths every year [just like my granny used to do] however I find that in California they don't need very much forcing, just a little gentle persuasion.
Cheers

Killlashandra said...

I like your tutorial. Growing things is not my strong suit but if I see these bulbs on sale down here I may have to try this.

Alison said...

Those little, white flowers are so beautiful, fresh, delicate and pure. Every year about a month before spring I begin to absolutely long for flowers. Usually I end up buying my one bunch of flowers for the year then. Now, if I were just organized ahead to time I could have my own flowers from bulbs!

Scribbit said...

Good question planetnomad--paperwhites don't require a cooling period while other bulbs often do. At least that's what I've been told and I just buy them straight and plant them.

Flea said...

Way cool! How do you know so much? Rubbing alcohol? That rocks!

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

They're beautiful! I never knew they were that "easy" to have before. Thanks for sharing!

Babystepper said...

I love paperwhites! Both the look and the scent. Unfortunately my husband thinks they stink. When we were dating I had a pot of them in my dorm room. He couldn't stand the smell. I would really like to get some for our house but I don't want to listen to him griping, so I guess I won't. =)

sharondais@aol.com said...

sheri at Sharondais@aol.com

it would not be Christmas in our house with a Amaryllis and paperwhites. I also happen to think they "stink" so I put them on a high shelf where I can enjoy their beauty,not their smell. u can "force just about any bulb" is fun and makes the house look warm and cozy. sheri

Hairx said...

Really so cool. :)

boinky said...

I used to do this all the time when I lived in Idaho...

Paperwhites are easy. I would plant a few every two weeks; they smelled wonderful...

But you can force daffodils, tulips etc. if you leave them in a cool/cold (not freezing) dark room for a couple months so they grow deep roots...and then when they are one or two inches high you bring them out... usually they would be ready for Easter.

I used an unheated bedroom closet for them...about 50degrees...