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Village of AsharokenThe small but powerful Village of Asharoken

Holiday 2010 Gardening Article:    "Plant and Enjoy Flowers All Winter"     By Joan G. Hauser

These stunning bulbs, purchased on line, through catalogs, or at local nurseries, are larger-than-life. They'll produce four enormous, brilliantly
Stunning Amaryllis in Bloom.
Stunning Amaryllis in Bloom.
colored lily-like flowers on a single thick flower stalk, perfect to brighten any room this winter. Blossoms are as large as eight to ten inches in diameter and appear in spectacular hues of red, white, orange, pink, or intriguing striped combinations. They develop so rapidly that it's almost possible to see them grow. The flowers last for roughly three weeks and can also be cut and displayed alone or in arrangements.

Flowers will take seven to ten weeks to bloom. To plant,use a standard pot two inches larger than the bulb's diameter to allow for a one-inch soil margin between bulb and pot. Make sure that the top third or “neck” of the bulb remains above the soil level. Water thoroughly and then sparingly until growth begins. Set pot in a sunny, warm window. Move to a cooler spot once flowers appear to prolong bloom. If you plant amaryllis bulbs every two weeks, you will have successive bloom through out the winter. Store unplanted bulbs in a cool place.

After bloom, place plant in full sun, keep soil moist, and apply a complete fertilizer every month until foliage begins to die. When new blooms are desired in the fall, cut back the old foliage to within three-fourth inches of bulb. Replace the old soil around the base of the bulb, leaving roots intact. Every three years, repot into larger containers.

Bulbs can also be potted in decorative pebbles or glass balls. Prepare in the same way, making sure that upper third of the bulb is above the pebbles with the lower part in water. As plant grows it will probably have to be staked. Amaryllis planted in pebbles will not ‘come back” the next year and must be tossed.

Amaryllis make a delightful Christmas gift. Buy them pre-packaged with a pot ready for planting, pre-planted, or, more economically, as loose bulbs. Plant them yourself in attractive containers, include instructions, and let your friends enjoy their growth. If you start them now, stems will be green by Christmas

Forcing bulbs indoors can fill a room with scent.
Forcing bulbs indoors can fill a room with scent.
Other spring blooming bulbs are more fragrant if slightly less showy. They are equally delightful in the dead of winter, adding a sweet smell to those dark days. Start thinking about it now. With the right planning, you may have them blooming all winter. Bowls of sweet-smelling flowers make wonderful gifts throughout the season.

Here’s what you need: clay or plastic containers with a drainage hole, potting soil and small stones for drainage; a cool dark spot where the bulbs can develop their root systems; bulbs, such as paper whites, tullips, hyacinths, daffodils, and crocus. Three tulips require a five-inch pot, as do four hyacinths. Three to four daffocdils require a seven to eight-inch pot. Six to seven crocus require a four-inch pot. The larger bulbs should be planted so that tops are just above the soil line.

After bulbs are planted, put them in an unheated garage or other cool place where the temperature remains below 48 degrees. Pots can also be left outdoors, covered with straw mulch for protection. Replenish water only when necessary. (Paper whites, Dutch iris, bluebells (Scilla), and freesias need no chilling and can be started in a shady spot till they begin to sprout.)
A basket of mixed spring bulbs can brighten a room in midwinter.
A basket of mixed spring bulbs can brighten a room in midwinter.
Many other bulbs require at least two months of storage. When roots are formed and tips of bulbs are green, move to a warmer room and indirect lighting. Once foliage and buds are more developed, move the pot to a sunny. window. After bloom, placing pot in a cool spot will prolong flowers.

For a lavish show, try double planting in a deep pot. Fill with soil one-third of the way up. Set in three bulbs. Add bamboo stakes tall enough to rise above the rim of the pot beside each bulb. Cover, leaving top third of pot empty. Plant three more bulbs, using stakes as a guide to prevent setting the second set of bulbs upon the top of first set. Remove stakes and cover with soil. You'll have a lavish, long-running show.

After bloom, allow bulbs to ripen and continue to water. When weather permits, plant bulbs in your garden, allowing stems and leaves to disintegrate naturally. Individual hyacinth vases filled with water and bowls filled with decorative pebbles may be used for paper whites, soleil d'or, crocus, and hyacinths. In these containers, bulbs will probably not survive re-planting outdoors.