As much as I love decorating my home for Christmas, I love even more putting away the beloved ornaments, tossing the items that have served their useful purpose, and clearing the decks for a peaceful look. Last year dear friend LJH sent an amaryllis bulb kit for a Christmas gift, and seeing the bulb bloom in mid-January got me hooked on planting bulbs for winter or pre-spring blooming as a way to refresh and transition to the post-holiday look. I thought I’d share with you how simple planting bulbs can be. Having done this only once, I’m clearly a novice, but I hope to inspire you to try your hand at forcing bulbs. First, the amaryllis, then the hyacinth.
At my local grocery store I lucked into a half-price amaryllis grow kit.
Step 1: Plant the bulb
The kit came with easy instructions. After soaking the bulb in warm water for an hour, I dropped the disk of dried growing medium into the white container. Add 2½ cups of warm water to hydrate the growing medium and place the bulb in the container with the tip facing up, covering about 2/3 of the bulb. I placed the white container into a slightly more stylish container.
Step 2: Watering.
The instructions say to NOT give the bulb much water until the stem starts to emerge. Given that this bulb was purchased at the end of the season, and a small stem is starting to emerge, I think I’ll add a little water sooner than later. After the stem appears, the amaryllis will require increasing quantities of water daily.
Step 3: Place the planter at a minimum temperature of 65-70 degrees, in bright sun. As the stem grows, rotate the direction of the planter occasionally to keep the stems from leaning towards the light. The bulb will bloom in 4 to 8 weeks. Voila!
Planting a Hyacinth Bulb
Since I am a novice at this bulb thing, when I purchased my four hyacinth bulbs at my local garden shop, I didn’t realize the bulbs needed a “cold treatment” in order to develop roots. This must be done before the indoor “forcing” can begin.
Cold Treatment – Step 1:
Prepare the potting soil in a container. The choice of container should hold the bulbs close together without touching. Add soil to container, moisten with a little water, then press down. Repeat a few layers until the soil is 1″ from the rim of the container. Then place the bulbs in the soil, tip end up, covering with more soil until only the tips of the bulbs show.
Cold Treatment – Step 2:
Place the container in a cold (40 degrees) and dark location for about 10 weeks. Before I placed my container in my unheated garage, I covered it loosely with parchment paper to keep out the garage debris.
Once the tips emerge to be about 2″ tall, move the container to a warmer, low-light location. Gradually add water daily, rotating the plant to ensure even sunlight. Move to a bright and sunny window after a few days. When the bulbs bloom, move out of direct sun to prolong the growing period. Enjoy!
The two online sources I used for the hyacinth forcing were:
January 17, 2013