Forcing Bulbs To Bloom Inside
A longtime tradition of many is to grow flowering bulbs indoors. Two of the easiest varieties of these types of bulbs are the paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis bulb. These bulbs can be found on the internet, in stores and nurseries during the fall and
first part of the winter.
When selecting the bulbs look for firm and large bulbs. These will tend to yield more flowers and be healthier. I recommend starting a group of bulbs every 3 weeks from early November through January. This will give you fresh flowers inside all winter.
You can store the bulbs in dark place such as a closet. Keep them dry and never let them freeze.
Amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs can be grown in crushed stone, soil or even just a vase of water. If you choose the soil method, keep the soil moist a first but be sure to let it dry out between waterings. If the soil is wet you risk rotting the bulb. If you grow your bulbs in crushed stone or in a vase of water, the key is to only let the very bottom of the bulb touch the water. Find a vase that the neck tapers so the bottom of the bulb will hit the waterline but the rest of the bulb remains above.
I keep the bulbs in a cool bright spot for the duration when I grow them. The warmer places in your home will speed up the process but the flowers will not last as long.
Amaryllis can be grown again, however paperwhites will not bloom again.
After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again. Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.
You should water and fertilize as normal all summer, or for at least 5-6 months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in the early fall, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil.
You now need to give the bulb some resting time. Clean the bulb and place it in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place for at least 6 weeks. Try the garage in a bag. Caution: Do not store amaryllis bulbs in a refrigerator that contains apples, this will sterilize the bulbs.
Now you can begin the process all over again. After 6 weeks you may remove bulbs whenever you would like to plant them. Plant bulbs 8 weeks before you would like them to bloom.
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