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Thursday
Feb122015

Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Weeks 10 - 11)

Grape hyacinth blooms on bulbs grown indoors in water. Marbles kept the bulbs dry.Feb. 12:

Grape hyacinths (muscari) have bloomed in my living room, grown hydroponically from bulbs set atop marbles in water within a wide glass vase. I count 14 blossoms, with three more just starting to form. A few weeks back, I feared the bulbs wouldn't produce flowers at all.

Another cool thing? They actually have a sweet fragrance, too.

In a smaller glass vessel, three more grape hyacinth bulbs are also at various stages of bloom.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan282015

Forcing muscari bulbs: An At Home journal (Week 9)

Muscari bulbs, all placed in a water-filled vase with marbles on Dec. 18, are at different stages of growth. The tallest has just formed a bud. Even a baby bulb that divided from a larger bulb during the previous growing season (foreground) is sprouting a thin stem. Can muscari bulbs be forced indoors in water? Happily, the answer appears to be yes.

Jan 28:

More excitement: A hydroponic arrangement of water-grown muscari bulbs that has not been shown previously has a flower bud, known properly as a florette. And, in the south-facing window of a warm room, it appeared in just six weeks.

I admit I went a little crazy with the muscari bulbs, but I have been growing them in varied hydroponic conditions because I wanted this to seem as much like a real experiment as possible.

Here's the back story: On Dec. 18 when I first noticed stems growing from the bulbs sprouting in the blue vase, I plucked out all that had not grown stems. I did not want to throw them away, so I put the four of them in a smaller, squarish glass vase (shown right) and tucked them in the window of a room I use frequently. Despite being placed on the same day and subjected to the same conditions, the four bulbs in the vase are all at different stages of growth, but all have grown roots. The bulb that has the florette sprouted within a week or two of being placed in the new vase, but unlike the bulbs in the larger blue vase, it remained relatively compact, with the tallest of its six stems measuring only 4 inches tall compared to the 11- to 12-inch stems on the bulbs in the blue vase.

It was a delight to discover the flower bud on this small plant after having wondered if the indoor grape hyacinths would flower at all in the water "planting."

A bonus: The glass vase arrangement, using flattish green marbles, has an interesting look with the visible beige roots swirling around in contrast to the stacked marbles. 

Tuesday
Jan272015

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 three 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.    

 

Tuesday
Jan202015

Water-grown tulips and hyacinths at Wegmans stores

Tulip bulbs growing in water were being sold at a Wegmans store.Water-grown tulips at Wegmans: Bulbs growing in water seems to be the trend these days.

I was in a Wegmans store last week and saw tulips growing in water in large glass vases. There were also a few hyacinths, already in flower, growing in smaller vases of water.

On their website, the people behind the brand  Bloomaker proclaim themselves "the inventors of a new floral category."

In addition to the water-grown tulips, they also offer retailers similarly grown holiday amaryllis, hyacinth and daffodill bulbs. You can watch time-lapse clips of various arrangements as they grow through bloom. 

According to the site: "Long Life Flowers is a new home decor vase collection of flower bulbs grown only in water." The company promises that  the water-grown bulbs can produce  fresh flowers indoors for up to four weeks.

Part of the secret is a patented pin-tray system that keeps the bulbs above the water in their vases -- much like my marbles and plastic "rocks."

Intriguing, but I resisted the urge to spend $20 on a vase of the tulips knowing that I had some tulip bulbs in my basement as part of my own indoor hydroponic bulb-growing experiments.     

I learned earlier this month that most bulbs need the long cooling period before they can be forced to bloom indoors. So, I put some tulip bulbs in the cold, dark  basement with the plan to leave them there at least 12 weeks to give them a "winter."

I hope to grow those bulbs in water, and even if am just starting them around the time they would be coming up outdoors, at least I might be able to enjoy them when and if they open. They'll be safer inside than my outdoor tulips where the usual scenario involves me finding only stems after their heads have been chomped off by area deer before they've had a chance to open.

 

 

Tuesday
Jan202015

Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Week 7)

Muscari (grape hyacinth) bulbs continue to grow stems. A thickening stem cracks the neck on one of the amaryllis bulbs.Jan. 20:

Amaryllis bulb #1: This week's exciting event is the sight of a thick, stiff stalk bursting through the neck of the amaryllis bulb in the tallest vase.  The bulb is also showing the tips of three more stems. 

Amaryllis bulb #2: The bulb in the shorter vase has a thickening shorter stem with three more layered stems emerging on the opposite side. 

Muscari bulbs: The grape hyacinth bulbs have an abundance of lush, thick green stems. I resisted the urge to pluck off a wayward stalk just to make a better photograph. The purplish bump at the end of one stem is still there, making me hold hope for at least one flower.

I confess that I have little hope that these bulbs will bloom. I figure that like larger hyacinths, they needed a cooling period that would replicate winter. Since they were sprouting, I decided to just put them on top of marbles in water to see what would happen. That was before I read up on forcing bulbs in water and learned that they might grow, but are unlikely to flower without the requisite chilling period of about three months.

Either way, I am appreciating the thick growth of stems as an unusual houseplant. It's pretty amazing that they are growing vigorously in the wide vase with only water and marbles.