It’s that time of year again

It’s that time of year again

Bulbs go through natural stages in the garden; stages that can be mimicked indoors for lovely, and often very fragrant winter blossoms. Home forcing during the holiday season is productive and fun. Select the largest bulbs for most flowers. Prechilled tulips, hyacinth and daffodils should be available from your garden center now, and clearly marked good for forcing. Prepare pots of bulbs for brown-thumbed friends for holiday gifts --Paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta & Narcissus tazetta orientalis ) require no chilling, bloom in 3 to 5 weeks, and can be planted in soil or water & pebbles. Amaryllis requires no chilling and blooms in 6 to 8 weeks. Lily-of-the-Valley (if pre-chilled) will bloom in 3 to 4 weeks. A period of chilling is required for many bulbs to develop a strong root system before top growth begins. A cool garage, unheated basement, or shaded coldframe (35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) will suffice, or even a refrigerator --but beware of ethylene gas. Bulbs often don't mix with fruits in enclosed spaces (like fridges) and can cause the baby flowers to abort, so check this list of fridgie fruit trouble-makers. Keep the soil evenly moist during the chilling period since some bulbs such as tulips will not open if allowed to dry out after growth begins. An outdoor trench can be dug for chilling mass quantities of bulbs in pots, if located in a well-drained area below the frost line. You'll also want to mark the pots well so that you can determine when each has had the required amount of cold You can prepare dozens of chilled pots that can be removed from your cool garage in batches for a continuous supply of blooms throughout winter. These prepared pots are relatively expensive to buy, but easy to make. Refer to our bulb forcing timetable link (right) if you'd like to mix bulb types, beginning plantings of those that require longer chilling periods, then adding those with shorter cold requirements. This timetable is also helpful in determining how many weeks until blossoms appear, if you'd like everything to bloom at once. After the cooling process, the addition of warmth and light beckons easy blooms in a sunny window. Turn the pots frequently to keep the stems straighter. Forced paperwhites and some tulips won't bloom again, and it's not a good idea to try forcing others again for 3 years. Try planting them in the garden and allow them to rejuvenate, though forcing is a definite interruption to normal growing. Amaryllis is a wonderful exception to this rule if properly maintained. NAME OF BULB WEEKS OF COLD WEEKS TO BLOOM Amaryllis/Hippeastrum none 6 to 8 Chionodoxa luciliae 15 2-3 Crocus chrysanthus 15 2-3 Crocus vernus 15 2 Eranthis hyemalis 15 2 Fritillaria meleagris 15 3 Galanthus nivalis 15 2 Hyacinth prepared 10-12 unprepared 11-14 2-3 Iris danfordiae 15 2-3 Iris reticulata 15 2-3 Muscari armeniacum 13-15 2-3 Muscari botryoides alba 14-15 2-3 Narcissus 15-17 2-3 Narcissus tazetta (paperwhites) none 3-5 Narcissus tazetta orientalis none 3-5 Scilla tubergeniana 12-15 2-3 Scilla siberica 15 2-3 Tulipa 14-20 2-3
My parents’ garden…

My parents’ garden…

Presents

Presents

Name that plant!

Name that plant!

Pretty blue flower

Pretty blue flower

Need Plant ID

Need Plant ID

Cherries!

Cherries!