by CHRIS WINSLOW
Want an easy and fun gardening project for the upcoming Christmas holiday season? How about growing a couple of ceramic pots full of blooming daffodils?
They will look beautiful, a sort of declaration of ‘spring’ in the midwinter, and you can then give them as gifts to gardening friends, or add a decorative floral accent to your house.
You can do this easily by a technique called ‘forcing,’ where you trick a plant to think that it is springtime.
My choice for gardener’s first forcing project: paperwhite narcissi bulbs. They are not difficult, and only need a week in the dark.
Start by filling a shallow clay or plastic pot with potting soil or small gravel to the halfway mark.
Place some paperwhite bulbs on top of the soil. Crowding is okay. The more bulbs, the more dramatic the outcome.
Usually a 6” bulb pan can hold up to 5 or 6 bulbs.
Sprinkle some small gravel between the bulbs to help support them so they remain upright.
Next, water the bulbs in and then place them in a dark location for one week.
During this time the bulbs will begin to grow roots.
After a week, place the bulb pan in a sunny or well-lit location.
Within 4 weeks, the bulbs will grow green tops and produce beautiful, vibrant white flowers that are sweetly fragrant.
Paperwhites planted every week or two will guarantee fresh flowers throughout winter and into the spring.
After the flowers have faded, you need to cut back the flower stalks, leaving the leaves intact.
Planted in the garden in a semi-shade location, these wonderful narcissi will then become a welcome addition to your perennial garden.
Naturally, they will bloom in the spring again, when the ground begins to warm and the days become long again.
They will return for seasons to come, announcing the beginning of the spring season.
Happy gardening. I hope your first bulb forcing project is a success. It’s easy and very rewarding!
Ask Ask Chris Winslow. It’s About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748