October is the time of year to begin growing your favorite bulbs in vases to produce winter color. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley are just a few of the bulbs available to force the fragrance of spring into the house for the holiday season. Bulbs grown in vases can also be given away as gifts. They will flower in about six weeks. Special vases are available, but any vase where a bulb can fit inside can be used.
Place your bulbs in a paper bag with air holes or a mesh bag in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer at the end of August. Bulbs need a cold treatment of 35 to 48 F for a minimum of 12 to 13 weeks in order to bloom after being placed in a vase.
Fill the bottom half of your vase with pebbles, marbles or crushed rocks. Make sure that the pebbles are small enough to be easily poured out of the vase later.
Bury the bulbs one-quarter of the way in the pebbles. The basal or area where the roots sprout on the bulb should be down in the pebbles and the pointy end needs to be upward. The basal end needs to be in direct contact with the water.
Fill your base with water up to the top of the pebbles. Keep the water at this level while you grow the bulbs.
Place the planted vase in a cool, dark room for several weeks while the roots form. You should be able to see the roots entwined in the pebbles.
Move the vase to a sunny location as the bulbs send up flower stems. Once the bulbs have bloomed, discard or plant them in the ground outside. Bulbs are considered spent after being forced indoors. However, several bulbs can be saved after blooming like the amaryllis.
Things You Will Need
- Paper bag
- Purchase top quality bulbs that are a good size. They need to be firm to the touch, free of mold, mildew or bruised spots. Do not buy bulbs with blemishes, feel soft or are too small. Some bulb suppliers offer prechilled or precooled bulbs.
- It is best to use the same varieties when planting in vases. Different varieties will blossom at different times.
- Do not chill your bulbs along side any fruit. Fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens. This causes a distortion in the growth of bulbs. Bulbs exposed to ethylene gas will not produce any flowers. While cold treating your bulbs, do not freeze them.