Winter Flowering Bulbs for Colour Indoors

As an inexpensive means of providing colourful floral decorations in the home during the dull weeks of winter and early spring, bulbs are pre-eminent. One does not need to be a skilled gardener or possess special knowledge to grow them successfully, providing a few simple rules are followed carefully. They are easy enough to give even a young child an ideal introduction to the pleasures of gardening.

By growing a selection of suitable kinds and varieties in ornamental bowls and pots of fibre, a showy display can easily be obtained. Such bowls not only lengthen the natural bulb season, but will make welcome gifts for friends at Christmas time and the New Year.

For ornamental bowls without drainage holes, it is essential to use bulb fibre which is readily available. This fibre is light and clean to use, being made up of fibrous peat, crushed oyster shell and a little charcoal to keep it sweet. It must be thoroughly moistened, but not saturated, before use. It is worth remembering that unless they are placed on mats or some other base, earthenware containers are liable to leave damp marks on tables and window-sills.

Fill the bottom of the bowls loosely with fibre, then press it down firmly but not hard. Space the bulbs evenly on top of this and fill in with fibre all around pressing it down well but not too firmly, leaving sufficient space at the top for watering and in the case of hyacinths and narcissi, the tops of the bulbs can be left exposed. Then give a light watering. If the fibre is pressed too firmly, the developing roots of the bulbs will find it difficult to penetrate the hard base and so may push the bulbs upwards.

After planting it is essential to encourage a good root system before the bulbs make too much top growth and this is achieved by placing them in the dark. The ideal method of starting bulbs is to stand the bowls or pots out of doors on a hard base or bed of ashes which does much to prevent worms and soil pests from entering the bowls. Then cover the bowls or pots with 6 in. or so of, peat or leafmould and leave them there for eight to ten weeks, looking at them occasionally to make sure the fibre mixture has not dried out. If it has, water as necessary.

This treatment will result in steady growth and a root system able to support good flower spikes. Alternatively, one can simply keep them in a cool dark shed or cellar or even a spare room in the house. In that case, the bowls need examining every week or so to ensure that the fibre is still moist.

After eight to ten weeks the plump white buds will be an inch or so high and they can be brought out into the light so that the leaves will turn green. It is important to accustom the bulbs gradually to both light and heat as a too rapid exposure may cause discoloured leaves or the flower buds may wither.

From this time, regular and copious supplies of water will be necessary according to the temperature of the room in which the bowls are placed. Pour the water in at the side of the bowls, for overhead watering may lead to moisture lodging in the centre of the leaf clusters causing the flower buds to rot off. This is especially so with hyacinths.

Specially prepared bulbs of hyacinths and some narcissi can be grown in glasses of water and there are special vases made for the purpose. They are so manufactured that the bulb rests at the top of the glass and the roots reach down through the narrow neck of the vase. These vases are filled so that the base of the bulb is about a in. above the water. It is possible to change the water every three weeks or so but since there is some risk of damaging the roots it is better to place a few lumps of charcoal in the vase at planting time. These lumps, when soaked, remain at the bottom of the vase and will keep the water sweet and check harmful substances from developing. Bulbs grown in water need starting in a cool, dark place for a few weeks so that strong roots develop before they are taken into the living room.

 

Rules for growing bulbs indoors

1. Use damp fibre in bowls, or sandy soil in pots.

2. Do not make the fibre or soil too solid underneath the bulbs and ensure that the bulbs do not touch each other or the container.

3. Keep them in a cool, dark, airy place for at least eight to ten weeks. Fibre should be checked regularly as drying out will be detrimental to growth.

4. When the bulbs come indoors, increase the water supply, warmth and light gradually by easy stages. Keep bulbs away from radiators, gas fires and other heating appliances.

5. Wait for the first appearance of the flower bud before standing the bowl or pot in full light—then give plenty of water.

After the bulbs have finished blooming put them in a cool place and water them frequently until the foliage has died down. As soon as the ground is workable in fhe spring, plant the bulbs out in the garden.

For those who have not the convenience to plant their own bulbs in bowls or do not wish to do so, the pre-planted bulb bowls now available enable them to have the pleasure of growing their own bulbs without effort. For the best results the following simple instructions should be observed.

Gently tip out the contents of the bowl into a larger container; then find the bulbs and place them carefully on one side. Wet the Vermiculite-peat rooting mixture thoroughly with clean tap water, afterwards getting rid of surplus water by gently squeezing it with your hands. Place about two thirds of the moistened mixture back in the bulb bowl and arrange the bulbs evenly on it. Place the remainder of the rooting material around and on top of the bulbs, so that their tips are just above the surface.

After planting, store the bowl in a cool, dark and well-aired position, such as a cellar, ventilated cupboard or better still, an unheated shed or some other outside building. In the case of hyacinths, leave them in the cool store until the new shoots are an inch or more high, whilst tulips should be left for at least eight weeks. Inspect the bowl occasionally and water whenever the mixture appears to be drying. If you think too much water has been given, tip the bowl on its side, with one hand over the mixture to prevent it and the bulbs falling out and the surplus will drain off immediately. Do not overwater.

When the new shoots are about 2 in. high, bring the bowls into the light and warmth of a living room, preferably close to a window but not in a cold draught. Water when necessary, but do not give fertiliser or manure of any form.

After flowering do not throw the bulbs away. If you plant them out in the garden, just as they are, leaving the bulbs, roots and rooting mixture intact, they will bloom freely the following spring and for years afterwards.

Bulbs to plant to provide early colour

For Christmas: Hippeastrum, hyacinths, Narcissus Paper White and Soliel D’or.

January: Chionodoxa, crocus species, freesias, galanthus, hyacinths.

February: Eranthis, erythronium, Fritillaria meleagris, narcissus.

March: Iris reticulate, muscari, ranunculus, sibirica, tulips.

April: Sparaxis, tritonia, tulips.

May: Triteleia, ixia, veltheimia

08. July 2011 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Plants | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Winter Flowering Bulbs for Colour Indoors

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