In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
December, 2012
Regional Report

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Orientation matters with bulbs: plant bulbs pointy side up and put the flat side of tulip bulbs to the outside of their pot.

Happy Holidays with Blooming Bulbs

Ours is a blended family in more ways than one. Such dear and diverse people deserve wonderful, well chosen gifts, but nothing excites them more than a gift from my garden.

Give Smiles with Potted Bulbs
Why not pot up bulbs for some special people on your list? Hyacinths and amaryllis need little preparation, but narcissus, Dutch iris, and pre-chilled tulip bulbs will need to be stored in a cool, dark place after potting. That gets them rooted and ultimately helps limit stem stretch. I have a dark spot under the north side of my house, but lucky you might have a spare refrigerator to provide these conditions. When the sprouts emerge, you can grow the flowers on in a sunny window or gift them with simple growing notes for the uninitiated like my family.

  • A Dozen Dutch Iris in a Basket
    Line a woven plastic basket about 10 inches square and 3 inches deep with sphagnum moss filled with good potting mix. Plant iris bulbs 2 inches apart on a grid, water well once, and grow in the cool dark until they show 1 inch sprouts.

  • Five Tulips in a New Clay Pot
    Fill a 6-inch pot with soil half way up and plant pre-chilled bulbs around the edge of the pot with their flat sides out. That puts their first leaf neatly outside the pot to frame the flowers. Water once and then store cold and dark until the stems sprout.

  • Four Paperwhite Narcissus in Gravel
    Bury these bulbs in pea gravel up to their shoulders, where the neck of the bulb expands out to become its fat base. Water once and store cold and dark until stems are 4 inches tall. Paperwhites are the only bulbs to grow in pots without drainage.

  • Two Amaryllis in a Big Plastic Pot
    Use a light potting mix for amaryllis and pot as narcissus. Water well and grow on in a sunny window. These bulbs grow quickly, so pot them about ten days before you want to deliver a six inch stem.

  • One Hyacinth in a Hyacinth Glass
    This special glass vase has a short neck to accommodate the basal plate of the bulb. Fill it with water up to the narrow opening so the base of the hyacinth just touches the water. Go directly to a sunny window with this one as it is slower growing than other bulbs.

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