'Forcing' some color and fragrance into your winter home
Creating an indoor
garden in the winter can be easy. Following some simple steps, and for
very little money, you can beat those winter blues with color and fragrance.
Amaryllis and paper whites are the easiest flowers to grow because they are ready to plant when you buy them. Hyacinths, crocuses and narcissus are also good. To get these flowers to bloom before spring, all you need is a little space in the refrigerator and a process called "forcing."
To force the bulbs, wrap them in newspaper or a brown paper bag and put them in your fridge. Be careful not to store them with apples as they produce ethylene gas that can cause the flowers to abort.
After chilling the bulbs (several weeks for amaryllis and paper whites, and about 12 weeks for the other bulbs), plant them in soil level with the tips of the bulbs. Plant close together but allow space for the bulbs to swell as they grow.
Put the container in a bright spot and allow three weeks for blossoms. Keep the bulbs watered, but not soggy.
Amaryllis and paper whites can be planted in polished stones or pebbles, without soil altogether.
After the amaryllis blossoms have wilted, keep the plant growing until the leaves yellow, let the soil dry and cool the bulb for two weeks in a dark area at about 50 degrees, and start the process over again.
Bulbs are available at most nurseries, loose and in packages, and range from approximately 50 cents to $5 per bulb. When buying loose bulbs, look for ones suitable for forcing. Some hybrid varieties will not do as well as others.
Most nurseries can walk you through the steps or have how-to guides. Some nurseries in Logan that sell bulbs are Anderson's Seed and Garden Store, 752-2345, and The GreenHouse Garden Center, 752-7923.
These steps on growing bulbs was provided by Scott Ruley and Mary Lee
Reese at Cactus and Tropicals, 2735 S. 2000 East, Salt Lake City, 801-485-2542.
Archived Months:September 1998