There are very few more rewarding tasks in the cultivation of a home garden than forcing bulbs into riotous bloom in the middle of winter. With a little practice and a little foresight you can assure yourself of some wonderful spots of color throughout your house that will continue all winter long. It is an inexpensive way to beautify your home, and nowhere near as difficult as most people seem to think.
Before we get into any real discussion of bulb forcing, there is one point that must be made. Never substitute quantity for quality. If you are offered bulbs at a special price the chances are that they are inferior in quality. The difference in price between a good bulb and a poor one is little, but the difference in performance is great.
The methods of forcing and the time it takes from when the bulbs are first set in the rooting medium until the blossoms open vary from plant to plant, and so we have discussed the procedures with both flowers described. We have chosen to outline three of those which require the least special equipment and which give best results.
Amaryllis is a flower which can be forced extremely easily. It produces several large lily-like flowers in a great variety of colors, white, red, crimson, red and white striped, etc. Plant the Amaryllis bulb, preferably one to a pot, about two-thirds of its height in a rich, well drained potting soil. Unlike most bulbs it does not need to be kept particularly cool, but can be kept in a shady spot at regular room temperature. It should be well watered at planting and not allowed to dry out.
It will take two or three months before it reaches the flowering state and so if you want plants in flower during the winter you should pot them up before December. Since this is one of the plants which will bloom a second year, don't throw it out when it has lost its flowers.
Keep it growing for the foliage, giving it plenty of water and plant food until the possibility of frost is past. Then move it out into the garden for the summer. In the fall, bring it back into the house and give it a rest period by cutting down its water supply and nutrients. Then repot in October or November and start the cycle over again.
Calla Lily is a bulb plant which doesn't require an especially cool starting environment. It does require a good rich potting soil to which a generous dose of plant food has been added and plenty of water. I should be allowed to grow after its blooming period. It should also be gradually dried out, starting in July, and allowed to rest for a period of six to eight weeks.
It is generally recommended that after the water supply has been cut back the pots be laid on their sides to keep the roots absolutely dry. Then in the fall repot, feed and start again. During its flowering period, which lasts several weeks, the Calla Lily and its numerous varieties produce some startlingly handsome flowers in many different colors.
Hyacinths will grow well without any soil at all, requiring only water. There are glasses, commercially available, which are made to fit a hyacinth bulb in which they can be very successfully grown. These flowers are not only beautiful to look at but have a wonderful fragrance which makes them doubly enjoyable.
To grow, fill the hyacinth glass with water so that just the roots are immersed and place in a dark cool cellar or closet for eight to ten weeks. When the growth has reached three or four inches, place the plant in a sunny cool window and it should prosper. Various hybrids come in white, pink, blue and lavender. Hyacinths may also be grown in pebbles.
Try any of these bulbs and they will reward you with months of pleasure!
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