I always enjoy forcing these bulbs during the holidays. Forcing means to fool them into thinking that it’s time to bloom early. This usually involves potting them up with soil and water. I really had my doubts that these Amaryllis bulbs would bloom to their full potential being encased in wax. I received one as a gift for Christmas, and the first stalk went up and bloomed on January 8th. After cutting off the stem, a leaf turned yellow, and I thought it was done. But, then another stalk went up for Valentine’s Day… and it had four more flowers open up on the 1st of March. It’s amazing how bulbs can store enough energy to flourish like this without any water!
Every fall I order bulbs to force for the holidays and spring. This season’s selection was Ziva Paperwhites (a classic for Thanksgiving and Xmas), and Narcissus. Silver Chimes are my absolute favorite, and then I usually pick another variety to try out. Paperwhites can be potted up in October, but the narcissus bulbs go into the garage refrigerator (where there aren’t any fruits or vegies to give off gas that can affect bloom) for about 6 weeks. Then they are potted up and placed outside in a cold, shady spot until the leaves are about 4 inches tall.
Every fall we buy narcissus bulbs to force in pots. First they go into the refrigerator for six weeks to pre-cool them. Because fruits and vegetables release a gas that can affect flowering, we have a small refrigerator in the garage that houses the bulbs during September and October.
Then it’s time to pot them up, water them, and put them in a cool dark/shady spot and keep moist. Once the bulbs are up about 4 or 5 inches, move them to a cool sunny spot. I like to sprinkle grass seed on top of the soil at this point. The grass dresses up the pot of bulbs and looks pretty and ‘spring-like’.
Spritz or sprinkle with water daily until the grass seeds sprout. Protect the pots from birds (who will scratch up the soil while eating the seed). Bird cages are the perfect solution for this phase of the process. Only we use them to keep the birds out!Â It takes about two months to bloom once potted.