Bulbs demand careful attention this time of the year

Spring bulbs that are still sitting on the shelf will not be viable in spring. If left on the shelf they will dry out or rot. Planting them outside now will most likely be a waste of energy with the exception of tulips.

Spring bulbs that are still sitting on the shelf will not be viable in spring.

If left on the shelf they will dry out or rot. Planting them outside now will most likely be a waste of energy with the exception of tulips.

These bulbs still tend to bloom even when they are planted late as long as they have had time to put down some roots. Placing a thick layer of mulch on top of the newly planted bulbs will keep the ground warmer and less likely to freeze, thus enabling the formation of roots.

Bulbs can also be forced into bloom, meaning that they will bloom inside in pots in the middle of winter. This can be accomplished by imitating nature — providing a cool, dark period and slowly increasing the temperature and sunlight to encourage the bulb to bloom.

Before starting to force bulbs make sure that all the cultural conditions can be met.

As with all bulbs, the larger the bulb the bigger the bloom. With this in mind, choose large firm bulbs without cuts or mould.

Bulbs that are being forced must be kept in a cool, dark area that is just above freezing for at least six weeks. It can take longer depending on the type and variety of bulb. This requirement can be met in an old fridge, cold room or cool area of the garage.

Make sure that the bulbs are not in the same area as ripening fruit as the gasses they produce inhibit the bulbs’ blooms.

Always use clean containers with good drainage to pot up any plant. But it is even more important when forcing bulbs as they will be sitting in a cool damp environment — a starting place for most moulds.

For the same reason make sure the potting soil is sterilized.

Once the materials are gathered, place a layer of moist soil on the bottom of a pot. Place as many bulbs of the same variety as possible on the bottom of the pot, pointy side up. Add enough soil to cover the bulbs.

For a fuller pot add a second layer of bulbs by wedging them in between the first layer of bulbs. When all the bulbs are added, fill the pot with soil. Finish by placing the container in a paper bag or box to ensure that the bulbs will always be in the dark. When the containers are all planted, move them into a cool area.

Check on the bulbs every few weeks to see if they need water, or are starting to grow.

Once the bulbs have a one- inch (two- cm) sprout they should be removed from the cold and brought gradually into the warmth and bright light.

Once the bulbs flower, place the plants in a cooler area to prolong the blooming period.

Staggering the time when the bulbs are removed from the cold will ensure blooms most of the season.

Not all bulbs are forced in soil. Hynthins and paper white narcissus can be brought to bloom in a forcing jar with water.

Forcing jars are specially designed to hold the bulbs out of the water but allow the roots to grow into the water and absorb nutrients.

Once the bulbs are in the jars the same rules apply as to the potted bulbs.

It is possible to purchase pre-chilled hynthins bulbs. These bulbs are then either potted and or placed in a jar and cared for until they bloom.

Staggering the time when the bulbs are removed from the cold will ensure blooms most of the season.

Forced bulbs are wonderful additions to the home of office in the winter months. They are a reminder that spring will be here.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist and educator living in Rocky Mountain House. You can contact her at your_garden@hotmail.com

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

VICTORIA — Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have… Continue reading

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) comes in to celebrate with right wing Tom Wilson (43), right wing T.J. Oshie (77) and defenseman Justin Schultz (2), after Oshie's overtime goal in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Washington. The Capitals won 3-2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Nic Dowd scores in OT, Capitals beat Bruins 3-2 in Game 1

Capitals 3 Bruins 2 (OT) (Washington leads series 1-0) WASHINGTON (AP) —… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Most Read