Forcing Bulbs – Essential Gardening Tips

Forcing Bulbs – Essential Gardening Tips

Forcing bulbs in bowls for indoor decoration in winter is now very popular. Cultivation is not difficult: the important thing is to use only the highest quality bulbs. They may be grown either in soil or in bulb fibre, but if grown in the latter take a week longer to come into flower and, since the fibre contains no plant foods, must be either thrown away after use or planted in the garden, where it will take them a year or two to build up their strength. The bowls should have proper drainage holes: it is almost impossible to gauge accurately the degree of moisture at the bottom of a holeless bowl.

Bulbs for forcing should be planted three to five in a bowl and stood in water until thoroughly soaked. They should then be allowed to drain for at least four hours, before being put away in a dark, cool place. There they should remain until growth is about two inches high, when they may gradually be introduced to more light and more warmth. The purpose of storing the bulbs in a dark place is to encourage them to make good root growth before the tops start growing strongly. If no suitable cupboard or cellar is available, the bulbs can be started in the garden, putting them in a sheltered place and heaping at least four inches of ash over the top of the bowls.

Daffodils and hyacinths are the bulbs most often used for forcing. If hyacinths are used they should be what are called ‘prepared hyacinths’: these have been specially treated to bring them into flower early. Other plants that can be forced in a similar way are crocuses and ixias. It is also possible to buy prepared’ tulips, but these are not usually a success in bowls.

 

 

A number of other bulbs can also be grown indoors, but they must not be forced. These include Amaryllis, Haemanthus, Hippeastrum, Ismene, Lachenalia, Schizostylis, Vallota, Veltheimia and Zephyranthes. All should be planted in well-crocked pots in a porous soil, with the bulbs buried to little more than half their depth. During the growing season, the bulbs should be watered liberally, and given an occasional liquid feed; they should be allowed to become completely dry during their dormant season – i.e. for about three months after their leaves turn yellow. In general it is better to err on the side of under-watering than over-watering.

One or two blooming bulbs have the remarkable power of being able to produce their flowers while sitting on a saucer on a windowsill, without either soil or water. Colchicum and Sauromatum guttatum are the two best known for this ability.

Colchicums produce large pink or mauve crocus-like flowers in autumn, while Sauromatum guttatum, often known as the Voodoo Lily, produces one of the most curious flowers in the vegetable kingdom: indeed it is more like a reptile than a plant: a long mauve ribbon spotted with brown and purple that slowly curls itself round a long, black rod, the whole flower measuring some two feet. It flowers in spring.

Both plants need to be planted out of doors to make leaf growth, lifted once the leaves have faded, and washed before being brought indoors to perform their remarkable feat once again.

 

 

24. November 2010 by admin
Categories: Bulbs and Corms, Plants | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Forcing Bulbs – Essential Gardening Tips

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