Category Archives: Bulbs

Forced bulbs – grass seed vs sedum

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

The mighty Amaryllis bulb

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!

Forcing bulbs

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.

Forcing Narcissus

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!  It takes about two months to bloom once potted.

Red Amaryllis

Forcing bulbs in the winter is something I’ve been doing for 30+ years, but this is the first time I’ve had three Amaryllis blooms at the exact same time. I am so in love with the color red lately!!