I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but I am a procrastinator with a capital P!!!! How about you? Do you struggle with this disease too? If you can name it, I have put it off. So today I’m confessing that I still have not planted those paperwhite bulbs that I told you about. I am going to plant them now. I know that they are ready and willing because they have started to sprout. What do we need to do to get them growing?
How to plant indoor bulbs…
Make sure to have all of your supplies before you begin
- Bulbs (Paperwhites, daffodils, tulips, crocus or hyacinths)
- Pebbles or Soil
Determine how you want to plant them. Soil or water.
The easiest way to plant bulbs is in water. Not much mess or fuss. And you get to see all the underpinnings of your bulbs as they grow. Planting in potting soil is a nice choice if you have a special container that you want to use to show off your flowers.
Choose your container
For planting in water you will need a tall vase to help support the stems of paperwhites. Another option would be forcing vases if you are planting bulbs such as hyacinths. For planting in soil, any container will work. I like to use ceramic pots and enamelware containers. If your container has drainage holes then you will also need something to put underneath to catch the runoff.
Directions for planting in water
Fill the bottom of your glass container with about 2 inches of pebbles. Set your bulbs into the pebbles with the pointed side facing up and the flat bottom downward. Aim the pointed tops toward the center of the container. Gently place more pebbles around the bulbs to hold in place. Add water to the base of the bulbs. Do not cover the bulbs with water or they could start to rot. Place your containers in a cool, dark area until roots start to form and the tops begin growing. At that point move the plants to a brighter area by your windows.
Directions for planting in potting soil
Fill the bottom of your container with about 2 inches of moistened soil. Set your bulbs into the soil with the pointed side facing up and toward the center of the pot. Gently fill in with soil around the bulbs but not covering them up to the neck. We want them to have support but leave about 1/2 inch below the neck uncovered. Water to moisten the soil. Be careful not to over-water to prevent the bulbs from rotting. Again, place your plant in a cooler area of your home until you have about 2-3 inches of growth. Then move them to a window that provides bright light. It takes about 4-6 weeks for your plants to bloom. So sit back and enjoy the wait.
Caring for your plants and flowers
Your bulbs will need to be watered weekly if they are in potting soil. If you have “planted” in a vase you might need to water more frequently. Keep the moisture level to the bottom of the bulbs. Indoor bulbs, especially paperwhites, tend to grow tall and leggy trying to get to the sunlight. Once they have flowers they will often fall over. To prevent this choose a taller vase for the water bulbs. The tall vase helps to support the plant. For potting soil bulbs, carefully insert a dowel or stick into the center of the pot. The stick should be about the height of the plants. Then tie the whole thing up with raffia, ribbons or twine. I did this with the daffodils that I brought in to force.
After your flowers fade
Once the flowers have faded remove them from the stalk. At this point you have 2 options. One, you can continue to enjoy the lush green plants until the leaves start to brown. Then just dump the bulbs into your compost bin. Paperwhites will never rebloom. Two, if you have purchased enough bulbs and you didn’t procrastinate 🙂 you can pull up the plants, compost them and start a second or even third batch of beautiful flowers. If you have other bulbs such as daffodils, tulips or hyacinths, you can move the container out to the garden once the threat of frost is over. Continue watering until the plant naturally dies back. Then remove the bulbs and store until fall when you can plant them in the ground. There is no guarantee that they will grow but it is possible. Alternately you can just leave them alone and they might regrow for you next year as you can see by my pot of daffodils.
Growing bulbs indoors is very easy to do and it is so nice to have live flowers growing in the dead of winter. You have to plan ahead however and purchase your bulbs in the fall. Usually after Thanksgiving most of these bulbs are gone as the stores make more room for Christmas merchandise. So what’s a person to do if you want some beautiful bulbs growing in the dead of winter? Why buy them already potted up at your local grocery store, hardware store or nursery. Many stores carry a variety of bulbs preplanted and ready for you to take home. I suggest that you purchase them with unopened flower bulbs. This gives you an opportunity to enjoy the flowers longer. I recently purchased this hyacinth and stuck it in a cute metal container to enjoy.
So if you purchased some bulbs last fall and you “forgot” about them, pull them out and get to planting. If not make a trip to your local store and see if you can find some planted bulbs to bring home. Spring isn’t here yet but we can have some beautiful flowers now.
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