Posted by: Michelle Mitton | September 24, 2008

Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Forcing Bulbs IndoorsHave you ever smelled paperwhites? I’m talking about the tiny little white daffodils that are also called paperwhite narcissus. They have such a lovely clean white scent that if you’ve smelled them once that’s probably all I’d need to mention to get you to plant them.

They’re a bulb that’s easy to “force” (or force to bloom) indoors and they’re a winter bulb which is why I’m mentioning it now.

If you buy a bag at the store (they should be popping up in stores about now) you can be guaranteed pretty little flowers in time for Christmas by following a few easy steps.

Forcing Bulbs Indoors1. Prepare ahead of time. The bulbs take approximately 8 weeks to bloom, give or take, so if you want a beautiful Christmas arrangement you need to be buying bulbs next month.

2. Buy the bulbs–paperwhite narcissus or amaryllis are the easiest for the holidays. Those are my favorites for winter and the amaryllis can be very dramatic in pink, red, white or striped. I grew some last year you can see here.

3. Plant the bulbs closely together, pointed end up, in a pot filled with decorative rocks or marbles such as aquarium rocks, small glass beads or other small heavy particles. You can use soil too as long as you don’t cover the bulbs too much because they will rot.

4. Water them well and keep the soil moist or the rocks with the water level at the base of the bulbs.

5. Place them in a sunny window sill and let them do their thing. However, once the paperwhites reach a growth of 1-2 inches pour off the water (if you’re using rocks and water rather than soil) and replace the water with a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 parts water. You want to get a solution that is about 4-6% alcohol which will stunt the plants growth and keep them from growing so tall they flop over.

6. Once the flowers have bloomed and faded stick them in a sunny place to store up energy in the leaves before they too eventually die back in about 6 weeks. Then if you want you can plant them again though it will be another 2 or 3 growing cycles before they’ll have enough energy to bloom again.

Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions–for the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for Children.

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