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Forcing Bulbs for Your
Own Indoor Garden
home remodeling articles and tips
By Kathy Hester
I really miss my garden during the long dark time of winter. So I make a winter garden by forcing spring bulbs to bloom inside. In garden stores, you'll see kits that have paper whites, hyacinth, and amaryllis, but you can save some money and make your own.
Most bulbs need to be chilled before planting to simulate the winter months. However, paperwhites and Amaryllis do not which is one of the reasons they are so popular for forcing. You can also grow freesias, bluebells, fairy lily, and calla lilies to break away from the standard fare. They also do not require chilling to bloom.
You can purchase a special bulb vase that has a thin body that opens to a wide mouth to keep the bulbs from getting too wet. Sometimes you can pick them up at a thrift store or on sale right before the spring. This is sometimes called 'water forcing'. You can even force Hyacinth bulbs without it. Insert toothpicks and put into a drinking glass like you grow an avocado seed as a house plant. They also look beautiful in a Noritake coffee cup. Make sure the roots stay wet, but the bulb stays fairly dry. Hyacinths, crocus, and narcissus love to be grown this way.
Use a waterproof pan or bowl and fill it with gravel or small river rocks. Now sit your bulbs into the pan so that they can stand up on their own, and that there is enough gravel below the bulb to keep them from rotting. I like to use a glass bowl so I can check the water level just by looking. Paper whites do great with this method, and they look amazing since they grow in bunches.
You can also plant them in pots of dirt. This is the way most bulbs that require chilling are forced. You usually need to plan this ahead of time since you will need to chill the bulbs for 8 - 12 weeks before they can be forced. They need the cold, but should not be subjected to freezing temperatures, so leave them in a root ce...
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