How to Grow a Beautiful Life
Forcing a Little Spring!
Writer: Carrie Petty
Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors in the winter can make gray days feel sunny. Once you experience the satisfaction of forcing blooms in the winter, you’ll likely not let another year pass without planning for your indoor flower oasis. This is a fun and easy process. The bulb already contains everything it needs to grow and bloom. They are self-contained little miracles. Sleeping under the brown, onion-like layers lies enough energy to produce one or two beautifully intricate flowers.
A bulb is essentially a self-contained, underground pantry of food for a bloom. Roots are sent down from the base of the bulb to find water and nutrients for stocking the “pantry,” and the stem grows up towards the sun to support the bloom. Once a bloom is finished giving you its full beauty (usually from one to two weeks) the foliage dies back. Often a forced bloom is too pooped-to-pop again in the garden, so I put them in the compost bin. Amaryllis, however, can be left to grow out their foliage and this helps to replenish the bulb for another year.
The fun begins with the selection of the bulbs. Flowers of the Narcissus family, or Jonquils, Paperwhites, Amaryllis and Daffodils, are the easiest for indoor forcing. They are readily available in most garden centers. Select bulbs that are already ‘cooled’ or ready to force. The bulbs you choose should be well developed and hard to a thumb’s press, with no damaged or soft areas. The bigger the bulb, the larger the bloom. The brown paper-like covering should be left on to protect the fleshy layers beneath.
Now, all you need is a decorative container, a few small stones, sunshine and water. Select a pot or saucer, which is “water-sealed” to protect your furniture. Moisture will build under the dish so put it on a plate or pretty platter. Always use containers that you love!
Place small stones in the base of the dish and arrange your bulbs. I prefer the water method for forcing bulbs. But bulbs planted three-fourths deep in soil, just so the tips peek-out works perfectly. Once the bulbs are in the dish, just fill with water about one-third the way up. A great little tip is to place a small piece of charcoal under the stones, this helps keep the water supply fresh!
Place your beautiful dish in a sunny window and keep an eye on the water level each day. Within a few weeks, you will be greeted with happy green sprouts. I love every, single growing stage. And I love having the fresh, crisp color of garden green in my kitchen window. It is crazy to me that the bloom is sound asleep inside the bulb, just waiting to come out! This is a fantastic task to do with children, it teaches them to take care of nature and to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them each day. Taking pleasure in the smallest of miracles.
To make your indoor blooms even more interesting, I suggest you sprinkle grass seed on top of bulbs planted in soil. Grass takes about seven to 12 days to germinate (when the seed breaks open and shoots emerge). I love having grass seed around for dinner party planters and special little pots placed at the head of each plate for place card holders.
Gardening is a year-round event in the Petty household. Forcing flowers in the winter, it’s all a part of helping to teach you, “How to Grow a Beautiful Life!”