What could be better than some beautiful blooming bulbs in your home to make the bleak winter days a little brighter?
October is the month to start potting your spring bulbs. Whether you are planting crocus, lily of the valley, hyacinths, daffodils, paper white narcissus, tulips, or iris, always use bulbs that are good-sized and of excellent quality. Never select a bulb that is soft or has started to sprout. The quality of the bulb is extremely important because it contains the food needed for the flowering plant to eventually grow. Remember it takes 12-16 weeks for a bulb to bloom. So if you want to give these flowering plants as Christmas gifts, you need to start to force them in September. Step 1:
. Plastic pots do not dry out as quickly as clay pots and are lighter. Place a stone or piece broken clay pot over the drainage hole to reduce soil loss. Soil should be a mix of sand (one part), peat moss (two parts), and garden loam (one part). Mix well and thoroughly dampen the soil. Add 5-10 teaspoons of soluble fertilizer to every quart of soil (if you plan to reuse bulbs). Never allow the bulbs to be in temperatures above 65 degrees
You can fit 3 hyacinth, 15 crocus, 6 daffodil, or 6 tulip bulbs in a pot with a 6" diameter. Never mix different varieties of bulbs in one pot. Plants bulbs with their pointed end up. The flat side of a tulip bulb, or any bulb with a flat side, should always be next to the rim of the pot. The largest leaf will appear from this side & give the plant a full look.
Adjust the soil so that top of bulbs will be level with the upper rim of the container Add soil to fill the container, but allow 1/4" space at the top so you can water easily. Water the bulbs well immediately after planting. Never allow the soil to dry out once the bulbs are planted.
Cold treatment for 12-15 weeks is necessary for the bulbs to bloom. Keep the pots at temperatures between 35-48 degrees. Never allow bulbs to freeze. Store bulb pots in unheated rooms, basements, garages, or refrigerators. When using a cold frame, be sure to open if outside temperatures reach 40 degrees. Cover pots placed outside with mulch to protect from frost. Cover pots placed in refrigerator with plastic bags with holes in them.
. Keep the following tips in mind for deciding when to bring the bulbs inside.
The longer plants are in cold storage, the taller they will be.
Bulbs kept in cold for less than 12 weeks will be small and may not bloom.
Bring plants in a few at a time for constant supply of flowering plants.
Bulbs with shoots 2-3" and roots coming out of drainage holes can be brought inside.
Place in bright cool (50-60 degrees) location and water well with 1/2 strength fertilizer.
Move to warmer spot (65-75 degrees) once leaves and buds appear.
Never place in direct sun.
Keep soil damp but do not over water.
When the blooms have died, bulbs can be thrown away or saved
You cannot force it a second time.
To reuse bulbs, dig them up once foliage has died back naturally
Plant immediately in your garden or store in a cool place for next year.
Forcing bulbs is difficult, but well worth the effort. Just think of how nice it will be in the dreary cold winter to have beautiful flower in your home.