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In the gray days of winter many people get a lift from bulbs blooming indoors. One way to do so is to buy pots of bulbs ready to bloom. Another way is to take a few bulbs convince them to flower ahead of normal time.
Always buy the best bulbs. Firm, solid, top-size bulbs will give good results; undersize, dried out. or squishy bulbs will not. Start out with tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths. They respond. A good time for potting up bulbs indoor is the same time as planting them out-doors. Bulbs can be potted up until December, but it takes 10 to 12 weeks for good roots to form.
Almost any container can be used for forcing bulbs as long as it has holes for drainage. A good potting mix, purchased or home made, contains sand, peat moss, and loam. Soils from the garden compact hard, are too heavy, and may contain pests.
Once bulbs, containers, and potting mix are all in place, cover the drainage holes so that water can get out but the potting mix stays in. Traditionally, a broken piece of clay pot was used. Since most pots today are plastic, pieces of nylon stocking placed over the holes do just as well.
Put enough potting mix in the containers so the tips of the bulbs will be level with the rim. Put the bulbs close together on the mix and press them in. (With tulip bulbs put the flat side of the bulb facing outwards. The leaf from the flat side is larger than the others and the result is a more finished look.) Add mix around the bulbs until only their tips show. Leave about a half-inch of space between the
top of the mix and the top of the pot for easier watering. If planting several different varieties insert a name label in each container. Water the bulbs thoroughly, and put pot in a dark cool (40° and 50° F) spot.( A pot or two will fit in the back of the fridge). Keep the potting mix evenly moist until the bulb tops are about an inch long and roots appear out the bottom of the pot. The bulbs are then ready to be brought out into the light. Bulbs can stay in a ready-
to-bloom state as long as they are kept cold and dark. So, for longer pleasure, bring one pot out at a time.
Place pots next to a cold window with bright light. Keep the soil mix moist, but not wet. Give the pots a quarter-turn each day to keep the stems from bending over toward the light. Photograph your success. Enjoy.
December, but earlier planting is more satisfactory because of the time it takes for good roots
Don’t let the pots dry out.
Be sure there is a good root system before bringing them into the place where they’re to bloom.
Once inside give them moisture, sunlight, and keep them cool.
If they’re all really beautiful, share them with a friend.
An even easier way to force bulbs is to buy ones that have already been started by someone else and are ready to bloom. You get all of the beauty and none of the pain.