Forcing Bulbs for Winter
Posted: November 21, 2012
Growing bulbs inside is one of my great joys of winter. I scour store sales and garage sales for containers to plant various bulbs in to give as holiday gifts. There is nothing like the cheer of an amaryllis, daffodil, or a little antique teacup filled with lily of the valley to perk up a gray day! And, best of all, it is easy. Bulbs that I have enjoyed planting inside include amaryllis, daffodils, tulips, paper whites, crocus, hyacinth, and lily of the valley. The more commonly available bulbs are lovely and adapt to a variety of indoor conditions obligingly.
However, the list of plants that can be forced into bloom goes beyond this. Calla lilies, oxalis, grape hyacinth, freesia, and ranunculus are a few that you can try. You may need to read up on the preferred conditions of some of the less common bulbs and plants. It may be necessary to use a thermometer to check the temperature of the location that you would like to place a bulb for forcing. Some bulbs and plants may require cooler or warmer locations that you have conveniently available. Most bulbs require a chilling period of up to six weeks before growing them.
I have a spare refrigerator that I run on a low temperature for drinks and bulbs. When I do this, I store the bulbs in a box with barely moist peat moss so they do not touch each other in storage. Alternatively, you could pot them up and keep them outside in a protected area covered with mulch or in a cold frame type structure for a few weeks. Stagger bringing them in so you will have a winter of flowers. As long as you are potting up bulbs, you could try growing grass seed in interesting pots to add life to a coffee table or shelf. If you want it for a particular time, allow about two weeks to grow the grass.