Do you crave colourful flowers during the winter? Perhaps you live in a flat and are a keen indoor gardener. Whatever your reasons for wanting to grow bulbs indoors, you may be surprised to find just how easy it is to grow beautiful blooms in indoor containers.
Paperwhite Narcissi – a classic choice
Professional nurserymen know just how sought-after paperwhites in bloom are. Instead of paying more for potted Paperwhites, try growing your own – it’s really easy. They don’t need any chilling before planting. It’s just a matter of packing them nice and close together in pots with soil or even pebbles to hold them in place. Give them good light to prevent stretching, and you have a pot full of scented blooms within just a few weeks. Plant several pots a few weeks apart for a continuous supply of flowers to cheer you up in gloomy February.
Bulbs that like chilling before planting
Plants may seem almost magical in the way they “know” it’s time to grow and flower, but there’s usually a good reason why they are triggered. Cold weather tells many bulbs that winter has been around and that it’s time to start developing their blooms.
When you buy bulbs, check if they have been pre-chilled. If they have, you don’t have to worry about chilling them yourself. If not, you’ll have to store your bulbs in chilly conditions for three to four months or more (depending on species) before planting. You can keep them in the fridge, but be careful that they don’t freeze, and don’t keep any apples in the fridge with them.
Some of the Narcissi are also happy indoors provided they’ve had their chilling treatment. Dutch Master and Tête à Tête are both good choices, and you can plant the bulbs out in the garden after they’ve bloomed.
Iris Reticulata is another attractive choice for indoor forcing, as are Monsella™, Apricot Beauty and Princess Irene tulips. Are you looking for something a little more unusual? Try Chionodoxas or Galanthus for indoor forcing, they’re definitely worth the effort.
Extra tips for indoor success
As we’ve already noted, good light is essential for attractive displays of indoor-grown bulbs. And although you may be tempted to mix things up a bit, it’s best to choose one variety per pot in case the different varieties or species don’t flower at exactly the same time.
Some bulbs, like hyacinths and paperwhites, can be forced in soil-less containers that keep the base of the bulb in water, but to avoid rotting, don’t let more than the bottom third of the bulb be submerged at any time. Of course, you can get quite artsy with this idea. Apart from the traditional hyacinth glass, you can use almost any container lined with pebbles, marbles or even semi-precious stones to hold your bulbs in place.
Don’t forget the key ingredient to any gardening adventure: whatever you do, enjoy doing it! Gardening really is fun, whether you do it indoors or out. Do you have questions about indoor forcing? Feel free to contact us.