16 October 2012

Make a bulb centerpiece for the holidays

Here's what you'll need to know to make arrangements of blooming daffodil bulbs for gifts or a holiday centerpiece. This is a wonderful activity to share with children.

Select bulbs that grow in warm climates since cold climate bulbs from Holland require chilling. In order to force bulbs from cold climates such as tulips, you'll have to pot and chill them before bringing them into the house. Amaryllis are also from a warm climate and need no chilling period.

This year's daffodils are in small gravel and
gold garland. The containers came from local
antique/junk stores - $1 or under.
Over the years, I've eliminated most of those bulbs from my forcing routine because warm weather daffodils are the easiest, and therefore the most reliable for me.

(If you want to know all there is to know about bulb forcing, get this incredible book, “Bulb Forcing for beginners and the seriously smitten” by Art Wolk, $24.95, AAB Book Publishing, www.gardenlunacy.com. The University of Missouri has easy to understand charts for forcing a variety of bulbs at http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G6550.

In the daffodil world, no-chill bulbs means buying Tazettas, Paperwhites, Soleil d'Or or Canaliculatus miniature narcissus. This year I ordered Canaliculatus from Touch of Nature.com. These miniatures mature at 6-inches tall so they are practically guaranteed to not fall over like Paperwhites which often are tied up.

Here's my illustrated blog post from November 2011 when I was forcing Paperwhites in water and stones for Christmas bloom.
http://allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com/2011/11/plant-paperwhites-inside-now-for.html

Here's my illustrated step by step for planting/forcing bulbs in potting soil
http://allthedirtongardening.blogspot.com/2010/12/bring-spring-early-plant-bulbs-for.html


Canaliculatus narcissus
From Pacific Bulb Society
"Narcissus 'Canaliculatus' (Division 8). This cultivar was introduced by the English bulb merchants Barr and Sons in the early 20th. century. Peter Barr is quoted in 'The Garden' in 1927 saying it originated in 'Mentone' which is the Italian spelling of the town of Menton near the French Italian border; the Riviera was a popular destination for the British upper class in this period. It is distinguished from the species Narcissus tazetta by being smaller and having grooved leaves from which its name derives (think canals). It has multiple scented flowers at right angles to the 5 inch tall stem."

To force warm weather daffodil bulbs in water -
- Select a container without holes.
- Fill container 1/2 or 2/3 full with stones, gravel, marbles, beads.
- Set bulbs on top of fill and put water in the container up to the bottom of the bulb
- Add more filler until the round base of the bulbs is under gravel but the collar or shoulder of the bulb and tip are above the filler.
- Put the container into a cool, dark place such as a bathroom or porch corner.
- Check daily for roots and shoots and to be sure the water remains at the bottom of the bulb.
- When shoots emerge, bring containers into bright light, not direct sun.
- Buds will show in a few weeks.
- Keep the containers on the cool side, meaning not under a heat vent, not on a radiator, not near a fireplace, etc.
- They will never need direct sunlight but bright light is good throughout their growing and blooming time.

Want to see a 3-minute instructional video from Lowe's on how to do this?
Here's the click - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKbi4qhfqHI

Purdue has a great write up of this topic http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-19.pdf

Go get some bulbs. Don't miss out on this wonderful fall/winter fun.

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