By AMANDA ZAMBRANO
Master Gardener Intern
WARSAW — No matter how well planned your winter landscape is to provide color and texture, come about January and you’re probably ready to see something blooming. Forcing bulbs indoors is a wonderful way to bring some color long before your earliest spring crocuses begin to show.
There are two types of bulbs for indoor forcing: bulbs that require a chilling period and bulbs that don’t. Bulbs that require chilling are tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and the like. Typically, one starts these in September, keeping them cooled to between 35 degrees to 45 degrees for 16-18 weeks. You’ll start seeing blooms in December.
Bulbs like amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus, however, don’t require a chilling time and are great to get started this time of year. Bulbs can be potted in potting soil or set in a clear vase with pebbles to keep them upright.
I like to use the clear vase with the pebbles, especially glass pebbles, because the bulbs have so much interest and beauty of their own. Be sure the bulbs are set upright so the stems grow properly, and use the pebbles to keep the bulbs in place. Fill the vase with water, covering no more than one quarter to one third of the bulb with water.
For approximately two weeks keep your vase in indirect light with temperatures around 50 degrees. After this two week period, move the vase into brighter light and warmer room temperatures. Throughout this time keep the bulbs well supplied with water, again covering no more than one quarter to one third of the bulb.
After two weeks in direct light and warmer temperatures, your bulbs should begin to blossom. For continuous blooms over a longer period of time, stagger starting your bulbs by a week or so. As soon as the first batch fades, you’ll have another batch just getting ready to bloom.
Paperwhites have a beautiful, rich smell and a sweet white blossom. Amaryllis come in a variety of colors including red, white pink and peach. Amaryllis are easy to care for, and with a little bit of tending can often be encouraged to bloom again the following year.
Amanda Zambrano is the director of advancement at Grace Village Retirement Community. She is a master gardener intern, just learning the ins and outs of successful gardening.
Along with her master gardener volunteering, Amanda serves on the board of directors for the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts, the Symphony of the Lakes committee and a Kosciusko County Community Foundation scholarship committee. She plays flute for the Symphony of the Lakes and enjoys hand-quilting, baking and reading. She is also an occasional blogger. Amanda lives in Warsaw with her husband Dan and her son Alexander.