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Thursday
Apr202017

Growing flowers in water: Amaryllis 'Double King' bulb lives to bloom again 

Left, my pet 'Double King' amaryllis bulb, Leafy, in Feb. 2015 and, right, earlier this month, April 2017. Note the difference in roots. Here's a post that almost didn't happen. Leafy, my pet 'Double King' amaryllis bulb sent up a flower stalk earlier this month, surprising me for what will be a third year of flowering, if all goes well.

Despite my happiness, I did not get around to taking that early picture.

In my mind, there'd be an ideal side-by-side comparison shot with Leafy in the same window as a February 2015 shot.

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Saturday
Mar182017

Can tulips be forced to bloom indoors on plain water?

At the root of it all: Tulip bulbs supported by marbles to bloom on plain water. Glass vases show the beauty in roots. Tulip bulbs can be forced into bloom indoors, much like amaryllis, paperwhites and hyacinths. I am in my third year of forcing them to bloom on only plain water in vases filled with small stones or florist marbles.

This year, with several inches of snow still lingering, I have an indoor garden that's giving me a happy jumpstart on spring.   

For this round, I decided to experiment with supermarket bulbs instead of my usual mail order bulbs. The results have been mixed. So far, I have a bowl of sprouted muscari (grape hyacinth) bulbs that have had two very dissappointing flower clusters among lots of green shoots (not shown). Previously, mail-order bulbs produced several stunning water-grown grape hyacinth displays.

From this year's supermarket tulip bulbs, I have three perfect tulips, one slightly flawed tulip, one mutant tulip, and four tulip bulbs in one vase that sprouted but never took root. 

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Wednesday
Nov302016

Growing in water: Meet Leafy, my two-year-old pet amaryllis bulb

Second-year bloom on "Leafy," my indoor amaryllis bulb that has been kept alive on plain water since December 2014. The photo was taken on April 23, 2016. See current photo at bottom of post. Growing flower bulbs in water has become a hobby since we first began to experiment in December 2014 with bulbs of grape hyacinth (muscari) and three varieties of amaryllis. (Last year, we tried fragrant hyacinth.)

After they all flowered, there was the question of what to do with them. The small grape hyacinth bulbs were thrown into the backyard, and they bloomed the following spring wherever they landed -- without planting, pampering or care of any sort. As for the amaryllis bulbs, I had read that if you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place that there's a chance they can be forced into indoor bloom again.

Of my three amaryllis candidates, one wasn't in good shape (the much-photographed, red and white amaryllis 'Splash'). The largest and sturdiest, which previous posts and photos reveal was a 'Magnum' bulb, seemed a good candidate for saving over winter.

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Friday
Feb052016

Water garden: Growing hyacinth indoors for fragrance and winter blooms

My blue bowl vase filled with fragrant hyacinths from bulbs grown on water.Spring hyacinth bulbs that I started in water weeks ago are now in full bloom in my living room.

They are filling the place with fragrance. I'm not sure if I like the fragrance, but the total sensory experience on the second snowy day this winter certainly brings a nice mood lift. It also helps that this hyacinth variety, 'Purple Sensation' is my favorite lavender.

This is the second year that I have grown spring bulbs indoors in vases with only water and marbles or stones.

The marbles or stones are placed in a vase or bowl with water added to just cover them. The bulbs are then set on top so their bottoms don't get wet. In glass vases and bowls you can see the roots grow, which makes this a fun project to enjoy with kids. Eventually, the rooted bulbs produce flowers.

The spring blulbs require a cold period, just as they'd have if they'd been properly planted outdoors in soil in the fall. 

I start the bulbs in my unheated basement, where they seem to be very happy, and then I bring them upstairs when they seem ready to flower.

So far, I've had success growing indoor flowers this way from bulbs for tulips (safe from the squirrels and the deer), amaryllis, grape hyacinth (muscari) and, this year, the full-size hyacinths shown.

There are several tulip varieties now well rooted in water in the basement, and I'll start more today to compare the difference in growth with those set on water several weeks ago.

Saturday
Jan232016

Forcing hyacinths in water: Snowy day report 

Forcing hyacinth bulbs in water. These were set in the bowl on Dec. 22 Forcing spring bulbs in water was so much fun last year that I decided to do it again.

I had not planned the blow-by-blow progress posts this year, but I shoveled 8 inches of snow (I measured) from my driveway starting at 7:13 a.m. I  finished at 8:33 just so I could go for a little drive on the Union County roads I knew would be cleared.   

Now it's 12:24, I'm back home, and the scene from my window looks like I never shoveled at all. So, here is an update on my bulbs. 

On Dec. 22, I put hyachinth bulbs on marbles in my blue bowl/vase. I put them in my unheated  basement and covered them with very loosely woven burlap cloth. Over the weeks they developed the roots shown, and grew robustly without light. Last Monday (Jan 18), I decided to bring them upstairs because their tops were already touching the burlap and some leaves had dark tips. I wasn't sure if they were being injured by the fabric, so I took it off and put them in the usual place near a sunny living room window.

They've greened up nicely. Here's what they look like on a snow-covered day.  

Hyacinths being forced in water. They are shown above with one month's growth.