Sunday, November 22, 2009

Flowers in Winter

The calendar may say November but that doesn't mean that you can't still have flowers. I'm always looking for ways to stretch the gardening season. Last year, I posted a lesson on forcing paperwhite narcissus indoors. Here's a repeat of that lesson, only this time, I'll show you how to grow them in rocks and water.

First, you have to pick healthy-looking bulbs. Your best bet is your local nursery but you can also check the big-box stores. Look for a plump bulb--you don't want anything squishy or dried up. Don't be afraid if it's already sprouting a little though--that's actually a good sign.

Turn the bulb over to the root side. This is the side that will come in contact with the water. They will look dried and shriveled but will plump up when "planted".

Use a water tight container. I like clear ones because I like seeing the roots growing. Fill the container with a shallow layer of rocks, stones, or gravel. Then place the bulbs in the container--they don't mind a tight squeeze.

Then fill the container with enough water so that the water level is even with the base of the bulb roots.

In a few days, you'll see the roots beginning to grow. Be sure to maintain the water level so that it is still even with the base of the bulbs. Keep your container in a spot that gets at least medium light. Near a window would be good.

In a few weeks, you'll have blooms (stay tuned for that posting). I buy a whole bunch of bulbs and then plant some every week over the course of about five weeks so that I can have blooms through February.