field of colorful tulips

Bulbs are one of the easiest flowers to grow, and they produce big results with very little effort.  With just a little forethought now, you'll have spring color to boast about.

Think "Dig. Drop. Done." when it comes to bulbs.  Literally, all you really have to do is dig a hole, drop the bulb in, and cover with soil and water in. While it's ideal to plant the bulb with the rooted end down -- it actually doesn't matter.  The bulb has everything it needs to figure out which end is up!

One way to get the most out of your containers and mixed planters, is to actually add a layer of bulbs to the bottom.  Then when your annuals die back, your bulbs will sprout up next.  Layer different kinds of bulbs based on their height and bloom period, and you can have a container of bulbs that shows off continually.

 
chart of blooming times for bulbsFrom the Netherland Bulb Company
 

If you are looking to grow bulbs inside here are some steps to start out! 

Step 1- Fill a clean container with drainage holes about two-thirds full of potting soil. Place the bulbs in position, and cover with additional soil. If the top of the bulb is exposed, that is fine. Water well in order to settle the soil around the bulbs. Bulbs can be planted very close together, even touching, to make the best show.

Step 2 - To initiate root and shoot growth, put the pots in the refrigerator or an outdoor protected spot. Ideally, the temperature should be 35° to 48° F. The soil should be kept moist through the rooting and cooling period. Most bulbs will not flower without this extended chilling time. A good rule of thumb: Bulbs ready to bring indoors when you see the foliage shoots 2-3 inches above the soil and fine white roots emerging from the drainage holes, and at least 90 days have passed.

Step 3 - It’s time to bring the pots out of cold storage. Place indoors with indirect sunlight and temperatures about 60° F for a week or two. When shoots are four to six inches tall, move the pots to a bright, sunny window to stimulate blooming. Fertilize with a half-strength solution of houseplant fertilizer. A temperature of about 68° F and direct sunlight will produce the best results.

Step 4 - When the buds take on color, return the plants to indirect sunlight to make the blossoms last. Keep the soil moist at all times. The flowers will open faster in a warmer room, but will not last long. To prolong the bloom time, keep the plants in a cool place. Note - Bulbs will flower some three to four weeks after they have been brought into warmer temperatures. Thus, from time of planting to flowering, allow a period of 15 weeks, comprised of 12 weeks for rooting plus 3 weeks in warmer temperatures. You can manipulate the flowering time by delaying the planting time or by leaving them in the refrigerator /outdoor location longer. After the bulbs have finished flowering, they can be planted directly into the garden. 

 

Even easier to start in your home and make great living centerpieces are Paperwhites!

Paperwhites started in November and December take only three to four weeks to come into bloom.

Here are some fun containers to start your bulbs in! Shop Online here.

Step 1 - Fill two thirds of a bowl with pebbles. Firm the base of the bulbs into the pebbles until they stand firmly on their own.

Step 2- Add water so that the water just touches the base of the bulbs. Do not submerge bulbs in the water. If desired, add more pebbles to stabilize the bulbs.

Step 3- Put the bowl in a cool dark spot (55°-60° F) for two to three weeks. An unheated room works well. As soon as growth appears, place in the light at room temperature. Keep adding water, especially once the bulbs are rooted. The warmth and light will trigger the growth of leaves and flowers. Bright Light and temperature are the most important factors in promoting successful flowering. Often paper white stems will grow too long. Tip for Success - Alcohol can be used to stunt the foliage growth. Once the green shoots reach about one to two inches, pour off the existing water. Replace the water with a solution of 10% alcohol and continue to use the alcohol solution for future watering. To achieve that proportion, you can use isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) with water mixed at 1 part alcohol to 10 parts water. With all forced bulbs, the flower stalks may become too tall to fit the container or situation. You can extend enjoyment of color and fragrance by cutting the flower stalk and transferring it to a water filled vase.