Forcing bulbs is a way to ring in an early spring or make the holidays festive. Adding grass seed to the pots has been my way to dress up the display during bloom. Timing is easy for Paperwhite Narcissus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They shoot up quickly, even in cool weather. But spring bulbs take a lot longer and sometimes the grass got too tall, especially in warmer weather.
This spring I used two types of sedum cuttings in addition to grass seed. The grass pots needed more water, and the roots competed with the bulbs.The succulents are drought tolerant and they will be something that you want to live on, like the bulbs, when planted outside.
More about forcing bulbs
Arrangements complete for two parties this week! The succulent flower combinations worked well and will last for weeks. When the flowers eventually fade, the succulents will continue to grow in the floral foam…or can be potted up or planted in the ground.
These pumpkins topped with succulents were the most popular item at my holiday sale.
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.
Then I sprinkle a big pinch of grass seed on the top and cover with bird cages (to keep the birds from eating the seed). Be sure to keep moist until the grass germinates.
The results are fresh looking, fragrant flowers that look so natural inside or out. When the flowers fade, the bulbs can be planted outside, where they will re-bloom year after year.
Put these together for a small beach wedding a couple of weeks ago. Sunflowers aren’t in season in California yet, so they had to be shipped from Baja, Mexico. They turned out very summer-like with succulents and all! The mini-sunflower-like mums worked perfectly for corsages and boutonnieres. The attendants (2 daughters and 4 sons) were wearing navy blue, so blue ribbons were added to match. Congratulations to the happy couple!
The new batch of nesting wreaths are bigger and better than before. Made with mosses, dryer lint, pet fur (freshly washed), strips of material, dried flowers and seed. With your feathered friends in mind, it’s wrapped onto a vine wreath with a wire hanger (no glue). Nesting wreaths start out as holiday decoration for your door or mantle. After the end of the year, it can hang outside, where the sunflower heads and amaranth will feed hungry birds, and then provide them with nesting material for spring.
All year long, Shelly gathers materials with potential at yard sales and thrift stores. These baskets are really starting to multiply in the garage… in preparation for the holidays. Hanging on the chandelier is the perfect spot to keep them up out of the way until they are ‘upcycled’ into Fire starter Baskets and Succulent & Flower Baskets.
This is how I make the garden stones that are so popular during the holiday season. I mixed up a couple of batches using plastic frames and stamps (e.g. Poetry Stones kit). I use the vinyl patch type of cement and mix according to directions. Filled each frame, smooth flat, and pressed in a few new phrases. When they were totally dried and cured, I painted on some watered down paint… filling in the letters.
When that coat was dry, I sponged on a contrasting color on the top and sides. These make nice gifts that last forever… inside or out.
Combining fresh flowers with succulent cuttings looks great in baskets. These were perfect for Easter. After the flowers fade, the succulents will last for months, growing into the floral foam. Or they can be potted up or planted in the yard.
Bundles of fatwood (natural high-resin sticks), cinnamon wax dipped pinecones, and herb/flower bundles in a basket. Perfect hostess gift or for your own hearth.
Gardeners share plants… that’s what they do. I recently made up some flower arrangements and a picnic basket for a house warming party. Who doesn’t love succulent cuttings? So pretty and versatile, it’s such an easy way to share plants. No need to keep them in water. They can sit around for weeks (roots start growing after 10 days). Easy to take care of… stick them in the ground and water once a week until they can get established. Mulch helps to conserve moisture. Share the wealth!