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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Dec. 2, 2023

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Gardening with Allen: Plant bulbs indoors for clusters of winter color, cheer

By , Columbian freelance writer

I read recently that you can plant bulbs in pots for winter bloom inside. Does this take special treatment?

There are two bulbs that can be planted in pots or other containers to bloom without special treatment. Paper white narcissus bulbs are pre-cooled and ready to be planted without any special treatment. Paper whites bloom in clusters of tiny, fragrant, daffodil-like flowers in either white or yellow. Place them in a sunny window. They will bloom in about four to six weeks.

Amaryllis bulbs are native to South Africa. You can find them in many stores in a package containing a bulb, container and planting mix. They can also be purchased separately in garden stores or online. Bulbs have been pretreated to bloom. Place them near a window so they can get some natural daylight.

Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus can be forced to bloom early if given a 12 week cold treatment at 45 to 50 degrees to get their roots established. That is the normal temperature of a refrigerator. An extra refrigerator for summer use works well. Shorter tulips like Triumph varieties are the best for forcing. Hyacinths can be forced in special hyacinth glasses with a lower compartment for roots and an upper one for the bulb. No soil is required in these special glasses.

Smaller bulbs like miniature daffodils and crocus can be grown in 4-inch pots. Use 6- to 8-inch pots for larger bulbs. Fill pots with soil, leaving 2 or 3 inches depending upon bulb size. Place bulbs close together so they are almost touching. Cover bulbs with soil so the tips are just barely covered. Water so there is some drainage out the bottom. Add a little water when the soil surface dries out. After 12 weeks bring pots into normal room temperature and watch them develop and bloom in two to four weeks.

Bulbs can be planted in larger tubs like those used for annuals in the summer. They can be planted up until late November. I plant larger bulbs in the center with smaller daffodils, crocus or grape hyacinths on the outside. I plant bulbs a little deeper in large containers and then plant annual flowers on top and between after the bulbs have bloomed. Bulbs will bloom again next year without replanting.

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Columbian freelance writer