At this time of year when I am out buying a few more bulbs to plant for blooms next spring, I always pick up a few extra bulbs for forcing indoors. My favorite and probably the easiest to grow are paperwhite narcissus. Potted up in beautiful glass containers, these make great gifts for your gardening friends.
HOW TO FORCE PAPERWHITE BULBS
Paperwhites are a tender bulb that would not over winter in my zone 5 garden. Because they are native to areas with mild winters paperwhites do not need such a long period of cold to bloom. If potted in soil and placed in a dark basement they will only take about 4 to 6 weeks to begin sprouting. They can then be moved into the light to bloom.
An even easier method of bulb forcing and also more interesting to watch, is to grow and force bulbs in water. Choose an attractive glass cylinder container and add a few decorative rocks, stones or gems to the bottom. Place your dormant bulbs on top of the stones and add water just to below the bulbs to prevent rotting. Add water to keep it at this level as it evaporates.
Within a few weeks you will observe the roots growing down into the water, your stems will grow and eventually flower. Not only are they beautiful to look at when we are forced indoors by winter temperatures but they also have a lovely sweet perfume. These mini bulb gardens are fascinating to watch for all ages. They makes a great project for children and for anyone house ridden they are a great gift idea. A small grouping of glass gardens makes a beautiful decoration for your home.
SAVING FORCED BULBS FOR YOUR GARDEN
Other bulbs you can try to force are winter aconites, scilla, crocus, snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils and tulips. For those bulbs that are hardy to your area, cut the flower stalks back after they have finished flowering. Water occasionally and allow the leaves to die back. Store the bulbs in a cool dry place until you can plant them into your garden at their normal planting time. Previously forced bulbs may take a few years in the ground to perform well.
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(some photos from pixabay) (some links go to my affiliate Amazon account)