Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
Are you forcing hardy bulbs this winter? I wonder…did you find yourself leaping through hoops to find a 35-45 degree location for their cold, dark, contentment?
My own bulbs, as you might recall, were planted in October. They occupied 21 clay pots and 12 assorted vases. I initially hauled the lot down to the root cellar. But when the furnace kicked on, the cellar grew much too warm. Thus the pots and vases were brought back upstairs and then outside, to the unheated shed. But when daytime temperatures dipped into the 20s, and nights the teens, the shed became much too cold. Frozen bulbs will not force properly. But I finally found quarters that seemed just right: the spare refrigerator, pictured up top. And there they have busied themselves, making roots in a thermostat-controlled, 40-degree environment.
Some of these bulbs have made ample roots, and can now be brought to the window garden:
Snowdrops (Galanthus). Mine have exceeded their required 8 weeks of cold storage. I shall move these next to a sunny but cool window (55-65 degrees), where they will bloom in 2-3 week’s time. If your window is outfitted with glass shelves, it’s wise to set galanthus on the highest shelf. Then you can look up to see the fanciful green stripes inside the nodding, snow-white bells.
Iris Reticulata. Have you tried forcing these little gems? They are easy to force, and early to bloom, just like snowdrops. The flowers, unfortunately, do not last long, even in a cold window. But if you have several pots in cold storage, as I do, you can bring them out at weekly intervals for a lengthy parade of violet-blue, gold-touched flowers.
Dutch Hyacinth. Not potted but vased are my ‘Blue Jacket’ hyacinths. They require 12 weeks in cold, dark storage, and then another month in a cold, sunny window to perfect their flowers. I’ve already placed two vases in the music room window. By January’s end, they will fill the air with their legendary scent.
The other hardy bulbs in my fridge include tulips (species and Dutch-types); daffodils (including the fabulous ‘Erlicheer’); aconites, anemones, frittilarias, crocuses, and muscari. I’ll write about these colorful creatures when they bloom in February.
Are you forcing any hardy bulbs this year? Where are you keeping them?
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