Early Spring Indoor Bulbs

Early Spring Indoor Bulbs

Part of Ep. 401 Waiting for the Snow to Melt

Force early blooming bulbs to flower indoors during the long winter.  Tibi Light shows how to create an early spring indoors.

Premiere date: Feb 29, 1996

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
This is the time of year when I would practically kill to have something blooming-- outdoors, indoors, it doesn't matter! I'm with Tibi Light to look at flowers you can have indoors while you're waiting for the snow to melt. There are lots of choices. And thank heavens, because it's really not very pretty outside.

Tibi:
No, it's been a long haul, Shelley. We all get pretty desperate this time of year. There's a lot of things we can choose from that bring so much light and life into the household. A lovely and easy thing to start with is an amaryllis.

Shelley:
Those are beautiful. A lot of people get them for gifts at the holidays. It's a nice present.

Tibi:
It's lovely, and very simple to grow. It comes in a lot of different varieties and sizes. Here, we have a tall one that's a reddish-orange.

Shelley:
It almost has copper colors in that one.

Tibi:
Yeah, it's amazing, the different colors. We have a dwarfed one over here. This cute little apple blossom.

Shelley:
Now, that's a cutie. A lot of people have no idea what they can do or how to get them to re-bloom and they end up composting them.

Tibi:
Right, that's a very viable alternative. But if you'd like to re-bloom them, it's not that hard to do.

Shelley:
So, this is easy.

Tibi:
This is truly easy!

Shelley:
What's the first step?

Tibi:
As your flowers start to fade, pinch them off at the top of the stem.

Shelley:
So, dead-head them.

Tibi:
Right, and once all your flowers pass cut the stalk off at the base of the bulb. And then, you'll find that you have all this foliage growing.

Shelley:
So, I'm going to get all these leaves from this other plant that has no leaves on it?

Tibi:
Isn't that interesting? The amaryllis bulb is actually an evergreen bulb from south africa. It doesn't have a dormancy period.

Shelley:
So, it's used to hot, dry conditions.

Tibi:
Exactly.

Shelley:
You mean, I don't have to put it in the basement and tip it on it's side?

Tibi:
No, it's very interesting. The key to getting an amaryllis to bloom is eight weeks of drought.

Shelley:
Before I get to that point, I can treat it like any other houseplant? I sink mine outside, pot and all, right into the ground.

Tibi:
Treat it like any other house plant. You can keep it in a window. Or, take it out and put it in the garden make sure you keep it away from frost.

Shelley:
They're frost tender. Then, four months before you'd like it to flower, put it through eight weeks of dryness. Don't give it any water.

Shelley:
Two months with no water and two months after that, it should be flowering. That's not difficult!

Tibi:
Give it a try!

Shelley:
There are lots of other bulbs, well, what's around us--- you see outside, growing later in the spring with no help from us. But, they can also be brought indoors and forced to bloom early.

Tibi:
Right. Most of these have been forced in the early fall last year and now they're blooming for us. You can start them in early fall yourself, or you can get them from garden centers.

Shelley:
They've already been through the forcing period. They might even be blooming when you purchase them. Let's look at some.

Tibi:
We've got a lovely variety. We've got little dutch iris.

Shelley:
Those, are adorable!

Tibi:
Aren't they so sweet! Then, of course, we've got tulips which come in all kinds of variety of colors shapes and sizes. We've also got hyacinth, which is not only very beautiful but the fragrance is delightful.

Shelley:
One of these can scent an entire room. It's incredible!

Tibi:
I often get one little one to keep around for the smell. Then, there's always our sweet little crocuses over here which are little spring harbingers. And then, of course, our daffodils.

Shelley:
All of these are fairly easy to force. And, they grow outside fairly easily, too. But, I've heard that forcing can really stress bulbs.

Tibi:
Mm-hmm, it is stressful for them. But if you wanted them to re-bloom for you-- you can, and you don't have to just compost them when they're done blooming.

Shelley:
It depends on how I'm growing them.

Tibi:
Right, it does depend. For example, over here we have in the victorian style, a hyacinth growing in water.

Shelley:
Water doesn't have many nutrients-- this was popular during the 19th century, but when they were done blooming, they threw them out.

Tibi:
Right.

Shelley:
But here, we've one in soil. So, I'm assuming it's getting the nutrients it needs.

Tibi:
You bet! We have one over here that's done blooming. This is what you'd see in your house. After your flower has bloomed, it would probably look this, which is a little ratty looking. But what you do, is you cut the flowering stalk off.

Shelley:
Just dead-head it down at the base.

Tibi:
It's very important to let this foliage to keep growing. This is what gives the energy to the bulb, so it will bloom next year.

Shelley:
So, like the amaryllis, I treat it like a house plant exactly. When do I plant it outside?

Tibi:
As soon as the frost is out of the ground, you want to plant these bulbs. These should go four to six inches deep into the ground.

Shelley:
So, much deeper than we planted them for forcing.

Tibi:
And then, literally, you can just forget about them.

Shelley:
Treat them like my other bulbs. Then, they should bloom outdoors, next spring. Thanks, Tibi. Enjoy them on your window sill now and have something to look forward to next spring.

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