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Forcing Bulbs

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February 20, 2016
One aspect of being a horticulturist means being able to make plants do want I want when I want them to do it. Observe my power! (maniacal laugh) Grow flower…..GROW! Tulips, hyacinth and paper whites are plants that can be manipulated into producing flowers outside of their normal blooming season. This is a technique called forcing a bulb. Forced bulbs are an easy way to bring spring-time blooms inside to be enjoyed in the winter. What makes it even better is that indoor light is fine as the flowers are already formed and ready to grow inside the bulb. The easiest growing method is in potting mix. Simply fill an attractive dish with mix, in this case I’m reusing a bonsai dish, and plant the bulbs. Be sure to keep the potting mix consistently moist. Another way to display is to grow on colorful glass gems purchased from the local craft store. You can also use a clear vase filled with a mix of decorative shells. Place the bulbs directly on the surface of the stones. Add water to just the bulb base, and maintain this level. The bulbs can also be grown only in water using special containers called forcing vases. Add water until it reaches the almost to the top of the vase, and place the bulb in the vase so the water just touches the base, and once again, maintain this level. Watching the roots grow in the water can almost be as much fun as watching the flowers open. So as you can see, you don’t have to be a powerful wizard to force some bulbs into beautiful blooms. Try it out this winter as a reminder of the warmth of the coming spring. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.
Department: Agricultural Communications

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