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Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Week 8)

Flower buds have formed on grape hyacinth bulbs set in a bed of marbles and growing in only water in a wide vase. Three buds are visible.Amaryllis bulbs growing indoors in water in vases filled with marbles Jan. 26:

EXCITEMENT!! Discovered not one, but two buds on the muscari bulbs growing on marbles with only water in a wide glass vase. In the early evening light, they look a bit odd. I Google "grape hyacinth buds" and see two shots that look a little like what I have.

Jan. 27:

On a day when there's supposed to be a huge blizzard, I happily pull out the camera to take photographs of my muscari and amaryllis bulbs, all growing consistently. The amaryllis bulb in the largest vase has a stem tip that is fattening, making me wonder if it might bloom on a short stem.

Change the water on both amaryllis bulbs, add a little to the muscari vase and feel encouraged about this bulb-forcing  project that I have taken the time to document.  I am amazed that the muscari bulbs appear to have sprouted more flower buds overnight.    

 See more hydroponic bulb-growing posts in the Gardening section.


Turn a zesty cheddar bread into Parmesan chile-cheese bread

The loaf of Parmesan Chile-Cheese Bread cools on a wire rack.Last winter, I fell in love with the recipe for Zesty Cheddar Bread from Betty Crocker's "The Big Book of Bread."

The recipe is perfect for winter soups, and it is so easy and so successful that it just makes sense to try making it with other cheeses.

So far, I've baked it with Monterey Jack and Parmesan cheeses, substituting canned green chilis, which I usually have on hand, for the canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce used in the original recipe. I use a whole 4-ounce can of green chiles in the recipe. They are pretty mild, with only the slightest kick, and the green specks are attractive in the loaf.

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Amaryllis bulbs: Winter flowers on a houseplant that's perfect for gifts

In a few months, when winter days are short and color is craved indoors and out, the big, bold flowers of amaryllis can come to the rescue as a houseplant.

Amaryllis are surprisingly easy to grow indoors as a winter houseplant. Their colors range from brights to pastels and bi-colors. There are shades of red, orange, pink, white and even green. Amaryllis 'Monaco' (shown) is a vibrant cherry-red accented by a white eye and white stamens. 

All that’s needed to grow them inside is the large bulb, potting soil and a six- or seven-inch pot with a drainage hole, says horticulturist Christian Curless of, which sells a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale prices. 

To begin, simply pot the bulb with its top third positioned above the soil line. Water well at planting, then water only as needed --  when the soil becomes dry to the touch. With proper care, the first blooms will appear 8 to 12 weeks from planting, Curless says. One large bulb produces at least two stems, sometimes three, each bearing four or more velvety flowers.

For a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale pricing, see or call (888) 847-8637. The minimum order is $60

Longfield Gardens, a New Jersey-based bulb company, also sells a number of options, including amaryllis, tulips and hyacinths at




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