If you are like me, you’ve had your fill of shopping for a while. But if you happen to be near your local hardware store, check them out and see if they have any amaryllis bulbs or indoor hyacinth sets leftover from Christmas. Last weekend, I came across a terrific deal on paperwhite narcissus bulbs for forcing indoors.
The narcissus kit contained four paperwhite bulbs, a plastic pot, and a growing medium that had been compressed into a disc. I soaked the disc in warm water and within fifteen minutes it mushroomed into a potting medium. I planted the bulbs shoulder to shoulder in a circle within the pot leaving their heads about 1-2 inches above the soil and set the pot in our bay window to receive full sun. Within 3-4 weeks, the paperwhites should stand about a foot tall and be filled with fragrant white blooms. At the end of January we’ll have a splash of spring in the house.
However, a word of caution. Be careful when looking for deals on these indoor bulbs. Look inside the boxes at the bulbs and make sure the bulbs have not already flowered in the box. I saw lots of amaryllis bulbs in that condition. As you can see, my paperwhites had already begun to sprout, but they should grow just fine. They really need sunshine, but we haven’t had much of that in northern Missouri for the last few days.
Forcing bulbs is one way to “think spring” in the middle of winter. Do you have any ideas to brighten winter?
A Happy and Blessed New Year to all What’s In Your Garden followers! And a special welcome to all who are visiting from the Upper Room blog. Thank you and please come back and share your gardening thoughts and practices.
Four inches of snow fell at our farm last night atop the inch of sleet that had accumulated throughout the evening. I’d be in a panic if I didn’t already have my Christmas shopping completed. But let’s say I didn’t. What could I do? I could bake more cookies and breads, but isn’t everyone already stuffed with Christmas treats? Besides, I’m getting a little low on eggs…
What about a start from one of my favorite houseplants, the Christmas cactus? For the last couple of weeks it has been brightening my office and spirits with beautiful pink flowers. I consider the Christmas cactus to be easy to grow because it tolerates me and my unintentional sloppy care. Although the word “cactus” implies that the plant needs little water, that’s not true in this case. The Christmas cactus originates from Brazil and needs moderate watering and good drainage. Mine sits in front of a west window but is shielded from the intense sun by blinds. The hours of daylight stimulate its blooming. In the fall, when the days become shorter and the evenings cooler the plant sets on blooms. My cactus usually sets blooms on its sunny side first and then I turn it around so the other side receives the sun to set blooms. The flowers seem to be very sensitive to drafts and how much water it receives. They will fall if it’s too drafty or they receive too much or too little water. Previously, my cactus has bloomed well into February. I don’t want to jinx it, so I won’t say that it will this year, too—not that I’m superstitious, of course.
My Christmas cactus is special to me because it’s an heirloom. The “parent plant” came from my grandmother, who died before I had a chance to know her. A Christmas cactus, or any plant, is a great way to keep a living connection with loved ones and the past. And if you give one as a gift, don’t be shy about telling why that plant is special to you. It will make your gift all the more special to the loved one who receives it. Merry Christmas!