Forcing spring bulbs to flower ‘early’ for Christmas or New Year, can bring scent and flowering magic to your home in the depths of winter. From the blousy Amaryllis to the delicate paper white daffodils to the knock you over scent of Hyacinths. There is much to enjoy. You need to plan early to get your mid-winter display, planting prepared bulbs in September or early October. Here are some to consider.
Hippeastrum Aphrodite: A striking form, with hansom double pink and white flowers with delicate red edges, held on tall stems, with several flowers per stem.
Hippeastrum Barbados: This variety has Christmas written all over it. With rich striking red flowers with a central white stripe. Held on sturdy stems and if you are lucky you will get more than one stem per bulbs.
Hyacinthus Delft Blue: This is a classic hyacinths, with a delicate pale blue and slightly darker centre, with great scent.
Hyacinthus Pink Pearl: This is a deep pure pink and will add a splash of colour to a house plant mid winter display and good fragrance.
Narcissi paper white Omri:multi-headed delicate flowers on 40/50cm tall stems with a subtle scent.
Narcissi tete-a-tete: A good strong yellow dwarf form, from 15/20cm tall, ideal for indoor forcing. With multi-heeded small trumpet daffodils.
Top tips; Always use prepared bulbs. Plant in September, early October at the latest. Use bulb fibre compost, which helps to prevent waterlogging particularly in containers with out drainage holes. Or even no compost at all, bare in mind the bulb has all the nutrients it needs in the bulb it’s self, the compost is merely there to act as an anchoring medium. It is important to choose a container that is the right depth and size for the bulbs you are planting. Also consider the colours of your bulb flowers and the sort of look you want to achieve, whether going for a classic old willow patterned chamber pot or a modern large glass jar filled with colour glass beads for an Amaryllis, or a coloured glass hyacinth jar, all should be considered. Put gravel at the bottom of your container to help with drainage, add the compost, place your bulbs in a group near the centre of the container, but so the bulbs do not touch. Have just the neck of the bulb peaking out of the top of the compost, make sure the compost finished about 30/50mm below the rim, to allow for watering. The compost surface can have a layer of decorative gravel/glass beads or even some moss from your garden (but not from the countryside). Water lightly before adding your mulch layer. Now leave the bulbs in a cool but dark place, like an outside shed or garage. An airy cardboard box can help to block out more light. Check weekly and water lightly so only moist. Once 5cm of shoots are showing, bring the pot of bulbs in doors to an unheated room with good light levels and allow the shoots to ‘green up’. Once there is good green growth, bring the bulbs into a warmer room to push the growth ahead for mid winter flowering. Use colour stems and canes to support taller flower stems.
So get planting to enjoy for Christmas!