Bulbs: You may have received or purchased some flower bulbs over the holidays. Pre-cooled paperwhite narcissus and hyacinth bulbs will root into water if suspended just above the surface of the water. Once rooted, they should produce flowers and leaves. Many garden centers sell vases that are designed just for these types of bulbs, or you can plant the bulbs in potting soil that drains well. Keep the bulbs cool — around 55 to 65 degrees to keep them blooming longer.

Bulbs that have not been pre-cooled, that are normally planted in fall, such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth will need to be “forced” to bloom in early spring. Tulips and daffodils can be forced into bloom after about 13 weeks in a refrigerator at 35-38 degrees. They should not be stored near any spoiling fruit or vegetables as the ethylene gas these materials produce can stunt the bulbs’ stalks and flowers. Pot them up before refrigeration, water them in and keep somewhat moist but not wet for best results.

If you’d like to keep and plant the tulips, daffodils and hyacinth bulbs and plant them out in your garden, wait till they finish blooming, cut off the dead flower stalk and keep the plants watered and fertilized like a normal houseplant until you can plant them outside in spring.

Amaryllis bulbs, which are not winter hardy here, can be potted up right away indoors when you receive them and watered in. Within a week or two, the flower stalk should begin to appear and blooming should begin a couple weeks later. Leaves will be produced during bloom or shortly after the flowers die. Cut off the stalk when flowers die. Sometimes a second flower stalk is produced, but usually it is just one. Leaves should be allowed to expand and mature on the plant without being removed until they turn brown several months later. They can be put outside for summer in partial shade and brought back in before frost, sometime in September.

Lisa Johnson, Dane County UW-Extension horticulture educator

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