Persuading Bulbs

Every fall I pot up a variety of bulbs and then gently persuade them to bloom during the winter months.  Nothing is more uplifting than to have daffodils, and hyacinths blooming in your home, while it is snowing outside. Persuading bulbs to bloom takes patience.  It is really just fooling the bulbs into thinking that they have rushed through autumn, winter and then have entered spring.  Some call it a gentle art.

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I have learned through trial and error, and now I expect good results.

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The roots are very visible on the daffodil bulbs.  These were potted up on October 14th, and this is showing  just 4 weeks of growth.  I like to use water with stones. If these were potted up in soil, I would not be able to see the root progress. I did pot up a few crocus in potting soil, and I also  potted up several large containers of daffodils in soil.

When forcing bulbs, size does matter, and you need to use quality bulbs, especially if you wish to keep the bulbs rather than throw them out.  I have never thrown out a forced bulb.  I plant them in the garden after the foliage has died off.  Some may take a few years to regain the strength to bloom.  I have noticed that it is generally the water forced bulbs that take a few years to bloom. Here are a few of the previously forced hyacinth bulbs blooming in my garden.  As you see, they are not as full as a first year hyacinth bulb that was directly planted in the fall, but they still add color.

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I have always used the special jars for the hyacinths.  This bulb has had 4 weeks in the chill room.  Sometimes  if  you buy a chilled hyacinth bulb, it will come with the jar.  You can also find the jars on line, there are a few sellers that carry them.  They also need the 14 weeks of cooling.  After they have bloomed inside, I will plant them outside when the soil is workable.  I have planted all of the forced hyacinths under a cherry tree, and now I have a nice little display.

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The picture above shows the crocus potted up using potting soil.  I just use soil that I would use for my house plants.   The crocus don’t require as long of a chilling time.  They are usually good to bring inside after about 10 weeks.  They will look like grass growing, and then suddenly blooms appear.

I have used a few ways of chilling the bulbs.  A small refrigerator worked for a while, and I would still use it, but I needed more room.  If you do use a refrigerator, you can not keep fruit with the bulbs, and it is best to use a refrigerator that is NOT frost free.  The frost free refrigerators will suck the moisture from the bulbs over time.  I would think that if you use the frost free refrigerator, then you will need to check the moisture levels more often.

The ideal temperatures for the chilling period is  above freezing to about 48 degrees.  This can vary a bit, but it is very important that they do not freeze.  I have a cold storage room, that I imagine was once used as a root cellar.  It is ideal.   Bowie spends his winter there.  His water never freezes .  This is what made me realize that this room would be ideal.  I did install a cat door for Bowie to come and go .  You can see the door to the left of the pots.

Bowie, relaxing under the coffee bench during a warm summer day.  He is still doing great and is a good gardening pal to have around.

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You can use a basement, if it is chilly and dark.  If you don’t have the dark factor, the bulbs can be covered with boxes.

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When forcing bulbs, you will want to plant them much closer together than you would out in the garden.  I also try to use double or even triple nosed daffodil bulbs in order to have a nicer display.  The bulbs can be almost touching, and they can be touching the container.

If you are using the water method, you have to make sure that the water level remains just below the bulb.  You don’t want the bulb to be sitting in the water as it can rot the bulb.  I usually check the bulbs once a week to make sure the water is below the bulb, adding water as needed, and I touch the soil, to make sure it is just slightly moist. Top growth will begin after the roots have started.  Some books on forcing that I have read , stated that when the top growth is about one to two  inches tall, the bulbs can be brought inside.  I found that I have much better luck, if I just wait it out, regardless of the top growth.   The daffodils really need the 14 weeks.  So for me, I will start to bring them in around January 20th.  You can stagger when you bring them in, so that you have some staggered bloom.  Being in the chill  a little longer won’t hurt. When I do bring them in, the top growth is not very green.  I will put them in a back bedroom that is not as warm as the rest of the house.  You can not put them in a brightly lit room at first. The top growth will start to green up, and you will start to see buds. After a few days of adjustment, I move them into a larger room that is well lite, but never in direct sunlight.

The last step is to just enjoy!!!

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Fall Fling

I  realized I left my blog with snow on it!! So busy and the days just rush by. It was a great summer, with some of the best daylily blooms ever. A few are still hanging on, and that is very unusual for this area. I have had quite a few rebloomers, ones that have never displayed this habit before. It is fall, so it is time for bulb planting.

I was so inspired by all the spectacular tulips I saw blooming last spring, I went for it! I generally don’t plant many tulips. They tend to be more annual than perennial, and also tend to be squirrel bait.

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I went for a pink / lavender palate. I ordered tulips Violet Beauty, Salmon Impression and Ollioules.  I just tossed them together in a bucket, and planted in groups of 7 or more.  Can’t wait to see how that mixture works.

Had to order daffodils for forcing.  The jars are ready.

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Now to cold storage for 14 weeks. I have found that the daffodils really need the 14 weeks.  I have so much more success with forcing if I am patient. I used the daffodils Cheerfulness, and Golden Dawn for forcing. Some daffodils are just better for forcing and I try to stick with those that have a good reputation for forcing.

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I also potted up crocus, which takes a shorter time, and I potted up hyacinth.  The crocus are in potting soil, while I used water for the daffodils and the hyacinth .  I have had good luck with forcing in water,  and I like the way the glass containers look with the colored stones.

The fall foliage was somewhat of a disappointment this fall.  Some say it is due to a dry summer.  The peak only lasted a few days, and the leaves were down.  Time to rake. I also mulch the leaves to use around the garden.  I  mulch in the mums after we have a hard frost.

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Things are winding down and I am getting ready to put the garden to bed for winter.

A few daylilies bloomed after Halloween, which was very surprising.

This is Palace Garden Beauty, reblooming down in the foliage, but still a beauty.

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Lake Effect also rebloomed at the start of November.

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Fall has flung!

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Some Day

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You may shoot me with your words

You may cut me with your eyes

You may kill me with your hatefulness

But still, like air, I’ll rise

from Still I’ll Rise  by Maya Angelou

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Say It Isn’t Snow.

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It happened, something that has eluded me all winter.  No complaints though, as I am  not a big fan of snow.  Something about it is beautiful, and with the wonderful addition of having  a snow day, it was truly lovely.  I enjoy it as it is now; however, it is fine with me that the forecast is for rain in a few days.  The pergola top looks like a waffle. So inside I go to make blueberry pancakes.  That was after I shook the heavy snow off the blueberry bushes.

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Some time was spent digging out paths for Bowie.  I can’t tell if he likes the snow or not.

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Today was the first day I had to use a shovel all winter, and this should all melt away by the weekend. A few more looks at the snow before it goes. This was a heavy, snowman building type of snow, but I didn’t have it in me, so no snowman today.015

Inside I have signs of spring.  The forcing project this winter has proved to be successful. I only had three containers out of more than 25 that did not develop buds.  The three that did not produce buds were likely taken out of the cool storage too soon.  This was the first time I used crocus bulbs.  I filled small containers with lots of the bulbs, and they turned out to be quite the sight, and the blooms have lasted a long time and are still going strong.

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I will have daffodils any day now, and the hyacinth are doing well. I have found that the hyacinth is likely the easiest bulb to force, and the scent is wonderful.  One bloom will fill the room with the scent of spring.  Just don’t look outside!

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So it is a  great snow day and I will enjoy it, knowing that spring is on the way.

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This is a stepping stone which was a gift from a friend, and it is so true!

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Enjoy your day.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

I do love raindrops on roses

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Better yet, Raindrops on Daylilies.  This is Broadway Review.4101

I love Whiskers on Kittens too, or Whiskers on Bowie!  The daylily with Bowie is Navajo Princess, a Dan Hansen daylily.

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Silver White Winters that Melt into Spring,

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Those are just a few of my favorite things. Yet my most favorite thing  would be the daylilies. Of course it is daylilies. I have now reached 500 daylilies, which as many of you know, is just a drop in the overall bucket. I think this is part of the reason that daylilies can become such an addition. There are just so many to choose from. Any daylily can be my favorite daylily on any given day. Don’t be timid about growing daylilies that may be introduced by someone who is not in your gardening zone. So far I have had good luck with all. The bud count, and sometimes the registered height may differ somewhat, but I have found that the blooms are always pretty close to the descriptions. It always helps to visit local gardens in your own area, just to see what is growing well in your gardening zone. I grow evergreens, semi evergreens, and of course dormants. I only mulch in the evergreen or semi evergreen daylilies when they will experience their first winter here, otherwise, they are left to the elements. I also never plant a new daylily or transplant/divide a daylily past mid September.

I have lots of Hansen daylilies, and he is a Florida grower.

This is my favorite Hansen in my garden!

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Yes, that is Dan Hansen,  he did visit my garden a few summers ago.  Of course it was the coldest day we have ever had in July, but the blooms did manage to put on a show that day, just another great thing about daylilies. It was a great day,  that made my summer!  Thanks Dan!

Another favorite thing about daylilies, is when they Poly.  This is just when they show extra petals.  A typical daylily bloom is made up of six petal like segments.  To get technical, the petals are arranged in two sets of three, with the inner segments called petals, and the outer segments are sepals.  Occasionally the bloom will show a fourth petal and a fourth sepal.  This is Ruby Spider in the poly form and if you look closely , it looks like Ruby has five petals. and four sepals. 4932

Also love the early blooming daylilies, that is a favorite thing. This is Web of Intrigue, always one of the first to bloom for me.

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I also have started to include Hostas on my favorite things list.  This is a shade garden that I started working on this past summer.  I look forward to seeing it expand.  The rubber duckies added a nice touch.

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A favorite event in the summer is when a hot air balloon flies over the lake.

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So when the bee stings just think of your favorite things! It is what I do.

Stay warm and think of spring.

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The New Year is Here

So much to look forward to in 2016.
The dark nights are here for now, but there is so much more light to come.
I put a few lights in the garden to brighten the night time garden; however, my lights just pale in comparison to the beauty of a winter sunset. My lights are simply the frame for the real show.
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A few paperwhites will soon light up the room.
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Happy New Year.
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Winter Prep

Getting ready for winter was so easy this time around. The days were almost balmy with plenty of sun. Just the crazy weather pattern. No complaints for now. I easily prepared the garden for this soon to come winter. Everything that needed to be mulched, is mulched, everything that needed to be cut back, is cut back. Leaves and debris were raked and bulbs planted. All set. I ordered just a few bulbs this time around, the smallest order ever.
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The order included Allium Pinball Wizard. I had a few in the garden, but felt a need for more. Just a great giant allium. You can see how nice the bulbs were.
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This order also included Hyacinth Blue Eyes, and daffodils, Falconet, Kedron and Ringtone. I potted up the hyacinth and the daffodil Falconet for forcing. Then after all of that I ended up going to the big box store, and purchased a few crocus, and more daffodils for forcing. Next fall I will just place a larger order! There was a distinct difference in the quality of the bulbs. The big box store bought were Ok, but the ones I ordered were far superior.
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I recently checked the potted up bulbs, and all have rooted and have top growth, just a few more weeks and I will be able to start to bring them inside for winter blooms. I did stagger the potting time, so I could have continuous bloom inside all winter. Bowie is finding his way through the fall leaves.
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So as we wait for winter, I must end this post with a bright picture of daylilies!
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Happy Gardening and Happy New Year.

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