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Holiday Decorating ideas with Winter Blooms

Have you ever had a moment when you stumbled across an item that you forgot you had? That’s happened to me more than once, but one “forgotten item” in particular turned into something quite beautiful when I came across narcissus bulbs that I had forgot to plant earlier that fall. So I decided to encourage them indoors to flower for holiday decoration.

Forcing bulbs to bloom indoors long before their outdoor flowers greet the morning sky is a fun indoor gardening project that will brighten your holidays with colorful winter blooms. Some bulbs need a cold treatment in order to bloom ahead of schedule; other do not. But regardless of whether or not bulbs need to “chill out” before flowering, the technique of forcing bulbs for early bloom is pretty much the same and very easy to do.

You’ll need spring-blooming bulbs, containers, and potting mix to get started. Containers that are at least 6 inches in diameter and twice the height of the bulbs are best.

Start by filling the container with potting mix so that when a bulb is placed on the soil, its tips sets 1/2 to 1 inch below that pot’s rim. Now set your bulbs close together in the pot; place each bulb with the base slightly in the potting mix and the pointed tip facing up. Next, add more potting mix until just the tips are showing, then water thoroughly.

Most bulbs need to “chill out” for a specific time period so they can bloom ahead of schedule. Locate your potted bulbs to any cool, dark location where the temperatures stay between 35 to 48 degrees, such as an unheated basement or garage, refrigerator, or outdoor shed. The chilling period can vary from as little as 2 weeks to as many as 20 weeks. It all depends on the type of bulb your forcing into bloom.

Move your potted bulbs indoors (55 to 65 degrees) once emerging shoots are 2 inches above the soil surface. Flower buds should begin to open two to five weeks later. Be sure to turn the pots every few days to encourage straighter stems, keep the soil evenly moist, and feed weekly with a half strength solution of liquid houseplant fertilizer for colorful spring blooms months before their time.

 Amaryllis: These dramatic and quite fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers need no chill out time to bloom by the holidays. Be sure to plant so that the upper half of the bulb sits above the soil surface.

Hyacinths: The enticing fragrance of these charming blooms can fill a room with fabulous scent and color. Bulbs are available prechilled, but if you buy unchilled bulbs be sure to let them “chill out” for 4 to 10 weeks before forcing into bloom. Chilled bulbs can also be forced in a water-filled vase or jar partially filled with pebbles.

Paperwhites: These Narcissus tazetta cultivars are powerfully fragrant. (Daffodils belong to the same family as narcissi, but have bigger blooms.) Multiple flowers arise from each stem in clusters; blooms come in color combinations of yellow, orange or white. Paperwhites do not require a chilling period, however daffodils need a chill out time of 14 to 15 weeks. Paperwhites can be forced in potting soil or in pebbles and water.

Scilla: Lovers of blue will want these charming flowers shaped like bells or stars. Besides shades of blue, they also bloom in shades of pink as well as white. One of the best bulbs for forcing, with a chilling period of 6 to 12 weeks.

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  1. Hi Kris,
    What a wonderful idea. Forcing blooms for holiday decorations it a wonderful idea! Can't wait to get started. Thanks!

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