Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tulips: Plant them indoors!

My last post about tulips was how to plant them outdoors, in the fall....but why wait for spring to have these bright cheery flowers around? You can "force" them (cause them to grow before their usual time) indoors and enjoy them all winter long.

The first step is to purchase appropriate bulbs. You need to make sure they firm without soft spots and at least 1 1/2 inches in diameter. According to the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University some good varieties of tulips for forcing are: Darwin Hybrids, Single and Double Earlys, and Triumph. I have also heard that T. batalinii and T. humilis are also a couple of good indoor tulip species because they stay shorter, reaching only 6 in (15 cm) high and therefore do not need to be staked.

Before growing, tulips need a cold treatment for 10-12 weeks. If you bought pre-chilled bulbs, you can skip this step. I have read on E-How that you can make due with a cold treatment of only five days or until the yellow shoots turn green, but I have never tried that.

To give them their cold treatment fill a 6-inch-diameter pot halfway with moistened potting soil. Set the tulip bulbs on top of the soil with their pointed ends 1 inch beneath the pot rim. Space the bulbs about 1 inch apart in the pot. Finish filling the pot with soil.

Water the soil until it's moist. Place the pot in a plastic bag, and seal it closed. Store the spot in a 35 to 48 F location for at least 10 weeks, such as inside a refrigerator if outdoor temperatures are too warm. Water the soil only if it begins to dry out.

Once the cold treatment has been given you can take them out of the fridge and remove the bag once shoots emerge. Set the pot in a 50 to 70 F location where it can receive full sunlight.

Water well and you should see flowers in three to four weeks.

I also found this idea on pinterest which I might try. It doesn't talk about a cold treatment, but I think I will be giving the bulbs their treatment before trying this. I love it though, it looks so striking!

Step 1 - Fill a glass container about 1/3 of the way with glass marbles or decorative rocks. Clear glass will enable you to watch the roots develop .

Step 2 - Set the tulip bulb on top of the marbles or stones; pointed end UP. Add a few more marbles or rocks so that the tulip bulb is surrounded but not covered (think support).

Step 3 - Pour fresh water into the container. The water shouldn't touch the bulb, but it should be very close, so that the roots will grow into it.


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