Use this guide to growing your Seed Pantry flower bulbs indoors and enjoy those spring-time blooms inside at Christmas and over the winter period.
Autumn is the time for planting bulbs in the garden, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, iris and crocus are all popular in Grow Club boxes now. Whilst you’ve been busy planting bulbs outdoors in the garden, it’s a great idea to pot up and grow flower bulbs indoors too!
So what is ‘forcing’ and what are ‘prepared’ bulbs?
A ‘prepared’ bulb is one that has been pre-chilled so that it will flower indoors out of season, only 8-10 weeks after being planted. The cold period mimics winter time and the ‘chilling’ period they need; Tricking the plant into thinking that it’s Spring time out of season! Time the planting right, and you can use your flowers as a stunning, fragrant home-grown Christmas centrepiece!
‘Forcing’ a bulb into flower sounds rather mean, but when you think about it you’re actually putting your bulbs up in a 5 star hotel complete with central heating and a watering-on-demand sort of room-service. Asking for a bloom out of season in return seems rather reasonable, don’t you agree?
Grow Narcissus papyraceus – ‘Paperwhite’
Perfect for newbie gardeners Narcissus papyraceus (a.k.a. the ‘Paperwhite’ daffodil) is a fast and easy, fragrant indoor pot plant with delicate white flowers. They’ll make a beautiful centrepiece for Christmas, or cheer up any windowsill on a dark winters day.
How to do it
- Plant several bulbs in each pot, pointy end up, with the tip of the bulb just below the surface. Any multi-purpose compose will do.
- Water well and leave in a cool, shady room for 3-4 weeks. There’s no need to cover these.
- After 3-4 weeks place on a warm, sunny windowsill and wait. They should bloom 8 weeks after first planting.
- If the plants get a bit lanky, lend them a hand (or stick) to keep them upright.
Once your ‘Paperwhites’ have flowered, allow them to die down in a frost-free place and then plant them in the garden in a sheltered, sunny spot. Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’ aren’t hardy in some parts of the UK, so if you’re a Northerner you may want to allow them to dry off and store them to be replanted in containers later in the year.
Grow prepared Hyacinthus orientalis
Otherwise known as ‘Grape hyacinths’, orientalis will also only take a short while to bloom. Planting these beautifully fragrant flower bulbs indoors during October or early November will see you with flowers for Christmas and New Year!
How to do it
- Select a container deep enough to hold single or multiple bulbs and add a 3/4cm layer of well-watered bulb fibre or Seed Pantry grow medium to the pot.
- Next, plant and gently firm down the bulb/s. Fill around them with growing medium, leaving the tip of the bulb showing by 1cm.
- Place pots somewhere cool and exclude any light: a garage, shed, dark cool cellar, cupboard, or a place on cool floor inside in a cardboard box.
- Inspect the bulbs each week to ensure the grow medium isn’t drying out or the bulbs haven’t pushed themselves out – firm back in if so.
- Your first leaves should be visible early December. Then place pots in a cool shady room. Leaves will green up and start to reveal the flower bud too!
- Wait until the flower bud is clear of the leaf tips and place wherever you want to display them!
You can also grow hyacinths using a glass vase, known as a bulb vase. The bulb should be slightly smaller in diameter than the vase so that it sits snugly. The steps are just as easy when growing them in this way too!
- Fill your hyacinth glass with water to the neck, just below where the bottom of the bulb’s base will sit. Place the bulb tip side up in the top, being careful that it’s base doesn’t quite touch the water.
- Leave your vase in a cool, shady place for 6 weeks until the roots start to form.
- When the main shoot is around 7-10cm tall, move the glass into a sunny position.
- Turn the glass a little every few days to prevent the plant growing lopsided, as they’ll grow towards the light. Top up the water every now and again to keep the water level stable.
Once your hyacinths have flowered, allow them to die down before planting them in the garden at a depth of twice their own height.
Seed Pantry Team 🌼
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