The indoor tulips I've been growing in water opened today, bringing the effect of a wild-looking spring garden into my living room.
Unlike the grape hyacinths and amaryllis, the tulips didn't get weekly photo updates. (Did anyone miss them?) They were sort of like the second child: you love the kid, of course, but having already experienced all the "firsts" you forget (or are too exhausted) to record every milestone the second time around.
Like the grape hyacinths I grew previously, I was concerned the 'Suncatcher' tulips in water would not bloom. They had lived in my basement garage since December to get the chilling required to replicate winter in the ground. In early February, I filled three glass vases of different sizes with smooth stones and water and carefully set the bulbs on top. I brought them all up from the basement on April 3. They were tall, pale shoots that looked surprisingly healthy despite weeks without sun. I set them outside for a day hoping to green them up. It worked, but the stems and the leaves that grew from them still don't have the deep green color of tulips grown in the ground.
From memory, here's how they developed. The bulbs had already sprouted when I arranged them in the vases with the water level just touching their bottoms. After a few weeks, full, cream-colored roots that resemble miniature ramen noodles began to emerge. The sprouts grew thicker and taller, the wavy roots grew down between the rocks to get water.
Blue mold, a type common to tulips and other plants, attacked while the bulbs were in the basement. I swabbed it off one of them with a weak bleach solution on a cotton swab, but didn't have time to do the others.
One of the bulbs that produced a bright yellow flower edged in orange has a severe case, but apparently wasn't affected by the mold it is hosting. It's actually the same mold that is used to make penicillin. I'll be removing it, however, because it's probably not a good idea to risk having the mold spores released into my living room.
The plants are also exceptionally tall. When I brought them up from the basement, most were about 10 inches in height. Undoubtedly, it's from stretching to get some of the sun coming through a distant window. In the two weeks they've been near a sunny window, the tallest has grown to 18 inches. Not ideal, but still a pleasure to see.
Beyond the happy feeling of success, the best thing is being able to enjoy my tulips without worry about the neighbohood deer making a meal of them.