Thursday, February 20, 2014

Springtime In A Vase

When I mentioned the other day that we were forcing some tulip bulbs in a vase, there was a lot of interest from several snowbound readers on how we were doing this.  I wish that I could say that I am just the sort of person who planned ahead and thoughtfully put this together weeks in advance, choosing just the right vase and bulbs and everything else, knowing that in the midst of a difficult winter some springtime cheer would be needed at just the right time.

But...not so much.

Truth is that I just happened to luck into finding a vase with bulbs already begun when I was at the grocery store the other day, running around and stocking up in between snowstorms.  Tulip bulbs have to be chilled for a while before they will sprout and bloom -- several weeks, in fact -- and it just wasn't on my radar screen back in November when I would have had to start this.

There are, however, bulbs that will sprout without this very long chilling period.  Those you could start this week if you are also in desperate need of Spring as we were.

As you can see above, the tulips are absolutely gorgeous.

Here are a few links to tutorials that talk about how to do it yourself:

-- A Real Simple tutorial on several types of bulbs.  Great information here!
-- Martha Stewart's detailed plans.
-- Better Homes and Gardens has some easy to follow info as well.

We are doing our bulbs in a clear glass vase, and it has proved very intriguing for The Peanut in terms of observing roots and water usage and bloom time for our tulips.  We've noticed that some little baby corms are forming on some of them to create new tulip plants, which is really fascinating since you never get to see this under the soil.

No idea if these will plant out safely once they have finished blooming indoors, but we are going to give it a try and see what we get from them next spring.  In the meantime, we are having a lot of fun with some beautiful springtime blossoms in our sun room after a long, dreary winter this year.  It has certainly been a mood boost at our house!

Needless to say, we'll be saving the frog and vase for next year to try and force some more bulbs.  This time, I'll try to plan ahead instead of just counting on luck at the store.

Be forewarned as you are reading the tutorials that paperwhites have a very distinctive and powerful scent.  They do sprout fairly easily, but they are not a bulb that I can tolerate well because the scent is overpowering for me.  If you have a sensitive nose, you might want to try a different bulb, FWIW.

Here is how our bulbs look at the bottom of the vase:

This is the "frog" (the plastic insert that holds the bulbs and has holes in it to allow water up through and drainage around the bulbs as well):

(Photos by Christy Hardin Smith.)

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