Growing Bulbs Indoors

Potted daffodil bulbs

Fall is a good time to plant flowering bulbs in the garden in anticipation for colorful spring blooms. Why not plant some indoors and enjoy the same beauty all winter?

Growing bulbs indoors, otherwise known as “forcing” which sounds quite aggressive, is a method of growing flowering bulbs in containers. Late summer to early fall is a great time to start as the bulbs require a 3-4 month cold treatment period in order to produce blooms.

Start by choosing appropriate bulbs for forcing. Those that produce quickly and stay compact are usually best. The better bulb suppliers will note which bulbs are suitable for forcing.

Daffodil bulbs for forcing

Daffodil “Tete a Tete” in a 6″ terra cotta pot

Daffodil bulbs

Daffodil bulbs ready for cold treatment

Start by filling a 6″ diameter terra cotta pot with slightly moist potting mix. Leave a 1-2″ gap at the top. Place the bulbs so they are touching. Make sure to orient with the pointed end up. Cover the bulbs with more potting mix so the tips of the bulbs are just poking out of the soil surface.

Now, find a spot in the house (or outside or even in the fridge) that will maintain a temperature between 35-42 F. The bulbs must stay cool but never freeze. Keep them dark cool and slightly moist.

 

Potted daffodil bulbs

Potted Daffodil bulbs in full bloom

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! After 3 months (4 for tulip bulbs) there should be tall healthy stems growing up, maybe even some flower buds. Place the pot in a bright warm spot to induce flowering. Once you have a good number of flower buds bring the pots into the house and enjoy. Once flowering has begun, cooler (60-70 F) temperatures will prolong the blooming period, so keep them away from sources of heat.

After the blooms have faded you may keep the bulbs (with their leaves intact) in the pot placed in a cool spot with some light. As soon as the soil warms up plant them in the garden. They may bloom the following fall but may need an extra year to bloom well. Do not try to force them again, much better to start with fresh bulbs for that.

Protected Grow Spaces

One of the “must have” features in a high-yield production garden is a protected structure. A place in the garden that gets bright, filtered light, is protected from wind and precipitation, has space for growing and easy access.
Why is this type of area important? Here are my top 3 reasons.

A protect growing area with some promise (before)

A protect growing area with some promise (before)

1. A protected space is ideal for seedling production. In warm weather, seedlings may be started on a grow bench. In the spring, the area serves as a transitional, hardening off area for seedlings or purchased plants. Plants will acclimate to the outdoor conditions without getting beat up from wind and rain.

2. Many types of potted plants including mints, microgreens, and cilantro are not well suited to growing in the direct sun. The filtered light provided by a properly designed grow structure provides the ideal light for these plants.

A protected grow area showing much more of its potential (after)

A protected grow area showing much more of its potential (after)

3. A well-designed protected area provides a multitude of uses including summer growing space, fall and winter storage area, space for spring plant staging , vertical grow space, even a compost bin. That’s a lot of bang for the buck!

Indoor Growing: Microgreens

Red Giant Mustard

One of the things I am likely to say in a discussion on indoor growing is how little space it takes to grow your own salad greens. All types of salad greens may be grown indoors, however, I happen to have a special fondness for microgreens.
Microgreens are edible salad greens harvested at an early stage of growth, anywhere from 7 to 21 days from seeding. Microgreens are perfectly suited to indoor growing as they are space-efficient, quick growing, colorful, delicious, and fun to grow. Read more

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