Potted Bulbs for the Holidays

Potted Bulbs for the Holidays

You can enjoy a bit of springtime in the middle of winter by forcing bulbs to bloom indoors. Blooming flowers in the middle of winter are always a welcome sight. They make lovely gifts for friends and relatives alike. If you would like to grow some flowering bulbs for the holidays, it’s time to get started with that project now.

Starting in October or November, there are only two types of bulbs that you can have blooming by Christmas: Amaryllis and Paperwhite narcissus. Other bulbs, like crocus and hyacinths can be started now but will not bloom until February.

Beautiful amaryllis hybrids have been produced in both the United States and Holland. They are available as named varieties in many separate colors. These hybrid strains have impressively large flowers, 8 to 9 inches across and 4 to 6 flowers to a stem, often with two stems growing from each bulb. The color range includes bright reds, salmon, soft pink, coral pink, and white.

These large-flowered amaryllis are easily grown in 6-inch pots. Keep the potted bulbs in a cool light place at about 50° until the roots are well developed. When leaves start to appear, move into a warmer room. Bulbs bloom in about six weeks from planting.

Narcissus are easy to grow in soil or in a bowl of rocks and water. Nestle the bulbs into the rocks and fill with water just up to the base of the bulbs. Treat like amaryllis, and they will bloom in 5 to 6 weeks, with lovely, fragrant flowers.

Tulips can be forced for mid-winter flowers starting this month. Use as many bulbs as can fit in the pot without touching. The more in the pot, the more dramatic the flower show. Plant the bulbs in clay pots in soil such that only the bulb noses are showing, and water them well.

Tulips need 12 to 14 weeks of cooling, during which time the roots are developing. You can place them in a refrigerator, or a place where temperatures stay below 45° and above freezing.

When the roots are well-developed, bring them into a bright, cool room and they will bloom in 2 to 3 weeks. Although they won’t be blooming by December, you can start these bulbs now and they will be well on their way by the holidays. Or hold on to them and bring them into bloom by Valentine’s Day!

Enjoy the magic of spring bulbs in your home this winter.

    • Primroses and pansies will add instant color to pots and flower beds. Combine them with bulbs for an extended season of bloom.
    • Check houseplants for insects. Spray leaves with insecticidal soap and wipe them off to leave them clean and insect-free.
    • Empty birdbaths and fountains and cover them for the winter, to prevent water freezing and cracking the bowls.
    • Persimmons look beautiful hanging on the bare branches of trees. Consider planting one in your orchard.
    • Tie red raspberry canes to wires; prune to 1 foot above the top wire or wrap the canes around the top wire.

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