Growing Bulbs Indoors
Do you want to have beautiful daffodils, hyacinths, and other bulbs this spring but don’t have space in your yard? Or maybe you have some pesky animals that love to dig up your bulbs all winter long? Try forcing your bulbs indoors! With this “How To Plant Bulbs” technique you can grow lovely pots of spring flowers early in the season and display them indoors or out as early as Valentine’s day!
Growing bulbs indoors to coax into bloom only require 12 weeks of chilling. These include crocus (especially the large-flowered types), hyacinths, and miniature hybrid daffodils. Two other small ones would be the grape hyacinth and miniature iris, but they need 16 weeks of chilling. No matter how long the chilling, allow another 3 or 4 weeks for the blooms to appear afterwards.
All you need is a cool place that you’re sure will hover around 40 degrees, such as a refrigerator or cool basement or garage; and, of course, bulbs and pots with drain holes.
How to Plant Bulbs
Here’s how to do it: Put a two-inch layer of potting soil in the bottom of a pot, then position the bulbs on top of the soil. Make sure their tops are a bit below the final soil line when they’re covered. Pack the bulbs in tightly—especially the tiny guys for a full gorgeous pot in the Spring. Next fill in around them with more potting soil, water well and place the pots where they can chill for the required number of weeks. By the way, you have to pot them up – naked bulbs will not grow the required roots!
At the end of ‘chilling time’, water the pots well and place them in a spot with good indirect light and temps in the low 60s for a week or so. Then, when the shoots are a few inches tall, move the pots into bright light and higher temperatures around 68 degrees until the flowers begin to open. Finally move them back into indirect light again, to keep the flowers fresh the longest possible time. If you have outdoor display space, go ahead and put your forced pots outside after the risk of a really hard freeze has passed.
It is a good idea to keep these instructions near your chilling bulbs so that you will remember what to do and when to do it. Enjoy your early blooming bulbs!
Bulbs: Dig, Drop, Done!
A fellow garden center, Echter’s, in Denver described his bulb season as “dig, drop, done”. I would have to agree with that. Bulbs really are little work compared to the joy and benefit you receive from them. The biggest issue is timing….plant NOW. Daffodils and tulips come up in early spring. If you are one of those customers that arrive at the garden center in March asking for daffodil bulbs, we love laughing WITH you when you find out it was 4 months too late to plant them.
I dig one large hole, put 8 to 10 bulbs in it, fertilize, add bone meal, cover it up–and vooiiiillaaaa, a large showy cluster of flowers will brighten up my yard in February and March. Of course you can dig more than one hole and, depending on the size of the hole, you can get more than 8 bulbs in the hole. the point is to make it easy for you. Remember…Dig (the hole) Drop (the bulb) and Done!
Our selections are always best at the beginning of the planting season, so drive by our Portland Nursery and Garden Center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood today to find the most varieties available. If you are a long time bulb planter, try something new this year. New varieties are such fun to add to your palette.
Should I Use Bone Meal or Bulb Food When Planting Bulbs?
We recommend bone meal at the time of planting bulbs, then applying a balanced bulb food once the foliage appears above the soil line in late winter/early spring.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Nitrogen can burn the actual bulb, which only needs the phosphorus and potash from bone meal in order to stimulate rooting. But once the bulb is sending out a stem, it needs nitrogen to become strong so it won’t bend over from the weight of the flowers that it sets. This is especially important for bulbs with large heavy flowers, such as tulips, ranunculus, and hyacinth.
It’s also important to dig your holes or trenches a little deeper than the bulb needs to be, applying some bone meal, then a little more soil so the bulb doesn’t sit directly on the food but has access to the food as it sends out roots (got to give those roots some incentive to stretch).