Sunday, November 17, 2013

Forcing bulbs

Photo: These bulbs developed roots and greenery within a week.

At this season, specially prepared bulbs (obtainable from any plant nursery) are ready for forcing.

Those who want fragrant narcissus or paperwhites blooming at home during the Christmas season are planting now.

It's simple. First, a layer of washed stones is placed in the bottom of a tall vase. Then the bulbs are positioned on top, fitted snugly together so they don't roll over on their sides as they begin to grow roots.

Water is added just to the bottom of the bulbs and they are place in the dark until plenty of white roots show at the bottom and the greenery begins to show on top.

Now they're ready to be brought into the light. In a few short weeks, this vase will be overflowing with fragrant white narcissus. Other bulbs that can be forced are hyacinths, which have an even more intense fragrance than the narcissi. They can be moved to the garden after blooming to add to next year's spring bulb show there. My front garden is loaded with early hyacinths planted out this way.

I have some blue hyacinths starting in the dark now, and have started a few crocuses as well. If all goes well, I'll have a succession of flowers into January.

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