Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Planting Bulbs part two

Forcing Bulbs

Planting bulbs for forcing is so easy and you’ll have fresh flowers in your home by February or March.

1) Select a pot, large enough to plant the bulbs. Traditional bulb pots tend to be shallow and wide but you could plant them in any container, making sure the container has good drainage. Plant the bulbs, in whatever combination you could have all of one type or a combination of many. I find a combination of Tulips, Daffodils and Grape Hyacinths are very effective. Add a good potting soil until the container is about 3/4 full. Moisten with water, but keep the soil loose, not compacted.

2) Taking care not to pack the soil down, place each bulb into the soil with the pointed end up and the bulb’s flattened side against the wall of the pot so when the first leaves emerge they will grow over the edge of the pot, for an attractive appearance. If you use Grape Hyacinths, place them on the outer edge and higher than the depth of the Tulips and/or Daffodils. 

3) Sprinkle more potting mix over the bulbs, until the main body of the bulbs is buried about 1/2 inch below the surface. The bulbs tip will be just peeking out of the soil. Place the bulbs close but not touching each other. The bulbs should be watered immediately upon planting and thereafter the soil should never be allowed to dry out. I have found when I place mine in the refrigerator, I really don’t water them again until they are brought out to flower.

4) When finished planting, place the pot in a plastic bag, tie the top in a knot and that’s all it takes. Place the pot in a refrigerator or other cool, dark place with temperatures of 32F to 45F degrees. A basement, garage or cool attic or a cold frame, if you have one, will work. After 12 weeks and weekly thereafter, check the pot and when the roots protrude through the drain holes and shoots emerge, the time has come to place the pot in a moderately warm, bright spot to encourage growth. A temperature of 50F to 60F degrees is preferred for the first week or until the shoots and leaves begin to expand. Then, they can be moved to warmer locations such as the living room. Avoid direct sunlight.

5) Mark your calendar to remind yourself when the first pots can be removed from storage for forcing to begin. If planted October 1, bring the first pots into the home right after Christmas. If planting more than one pot, bring them in at weekly intervals for continuous blooms. On the average the bulbs will flower in three to four weeks. Closer to spring, they flower more rapidly. The cooler the location, the longer lasting the blooms will be. And don’t be intimidated by the process, it’s really easy...have fun with it.

The following fall, you can plant the bulbs you used into the garden. You always want to use fresh bulbs for forcing.

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