We all love summer, with its burst of colours, scents and textures of the bulbs in bloom. But alas, as with all good things the summer must eventually come to an end. Luckily though, the flowers do not necessarily need to do so!
Here’s a quick guide to preparing an indoor bulb spectacle to keep your home full of colourful cheer through Winter.
What bulbs to plant
There are a number of bulbs you can plant in boxes, ready to bloom before Christmas. Some are referred to as ‘prepared’ bulbs, or are indoor-specific, and include:
- Paperwhite Narcissus
- Prepared Hyacinths
Pot these bulbs up around September or October position somewhere until shoots appear. Then move into a warm and bright position so they will continue to grow. The entire process will take between six and eight weeks.
You can also use a chilling or ‘forcing’ method to bring Spring bulbs into early bloom in an indoor setting. These include Tulips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Dutch Irises and Scilla – by chilling these bulbs for 16-18 weeks (from October), you can coax them into flower around late January or early February.
Bulbs that are native to warm climates do not need chilling to trigger growth and blooming – Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus, for example.
When to plant the bulbs
Ideally, for January blooms you should be planting these bulbs into boxes in late September or early October, as the ambient temperature begins to dip. For February indoor colour, plant mid-October, and for March blooms late October or early November.
How to plant
Ideally you should be planting your bulbs in a shallow, wide pot between 10-15cm deep, giving the bulbs at least 5cm of root growth space below their planting height.
Use a potting mix of soil and compost and plant the bulbs about 2cm apart for maximum coverage and bloom density.
Once planted – if these are bulbs that require chilling – you’ll need to find a spot that’s between 2-7 degrees Celsius for the entire cooling period of 16-18 weeks. Depending on how cold it is where you live, you can either leave the pot outside covered in straw to protect against frost, or in an unheated shed, cupboard or cold box.
When to expect your blooms
Generally, once you start to waken the bulbs towards blooming, you’ll need to slowly acclimatize them over 3-4 weeks.
Start with 2 weeks of indirect sunlight and ambient temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius, and once the shoots are 8-12cm tall, move the pot to a sunny indoor spot with direct sunlight around 20 degrees Celsius. Once your bulbs bloom, move them to indirect sunlight to prolong the blooming period.
It’s a tricky process that requires space and careful moderation of the temperature.
Generally, once the blooms have gone over, you should throw the bulbs out, although if you do want to, you can remove them (once the foliage yellows) and re-plant them outdoors although it may take a few seasons before they bloom again.