Indoor Flower Bulbs
Some of the easiest bulbs to bring to bloom indoors are fragrant ‘prepared’ hyacinths. Available in colours of red, white, pink, blue, and purple, they are generally bigger-sized bulbs and produce the largest flowers.
It works well to pot them up as singles or triples in four or six-inch pots, especially if you use contemporary-styled decorative containers. Most folks prefer to use either a hyacinth vase, which holds the bulbs on top, allowing the roots to filter down into the water. Another popular option is using a clear glass rose bowl with colourful rocks holding the bulbs up and in place while the roots feather down to the water below the rocks. However you choose to set them out, remember the display is only half the artistic value next to your beautiful blooms.
‘Paperwhite’ narcissus are, perhaps, the most popular indoor bulbs simply because there’s just something about them blooming indoors that reminds us their cousins will be doing the same in our outdoor gardens come spring.
The display you create with these bulbs is where the true fun begins. For one of the most beautiful presentations, I love to use tall, cylindrical, clear vases with colourful stones on the bottom nesting the bulbs, and water below. Shallow, coloured, glass containers work well too, as long as you can see the lovely white roots developing.
Another great way to display them is planted in tall, thin, clay pots with green moss over the soil and red huckleberry twigs placed in the container to accent and support the stems as they grow.
Growing Hyacinths and ‘Paperwhites’ Indoors
The trick with hyacinths and ‘Paperwhites’ is giving these bulbs a cool start (5°C or 40°F) to ensure the slow development of good roots and sturdy stems and leaves. You’ll destroy the beauty of these flowers if you let them just rocket out of their bulbs. Start them near a cool window, outside on the patio if temperatures are above freezing, or even in your fridge until the roots have formed and the stems are just emerging with the flower head inside. With a cool start, they will be much more attractive and, as they grow, try to keep them as cool as you can for the longest enjoyment.
Amaryllis is the granddaddy of all indoor flower bulbs, and probably the most spectacular. It’s important to start with larger bulbs, ones measuring about 28 – 29 cm, to guarantee good flower stems. To double your enjoyment, select 30 – 34 cm size bulbs, and you should expect two blossom stems!
The colour range now available is quite remarkable – from reds, oranges, pinks, and whites, to bi-colours. If you want to try something a little different, quite a few species types have unique colours (like green) and interesting flower sizes and forms. The new ‘Nymph’ series have fully double blossoms.
Growing Amaryllis Indoors
For the greatest success with amaryllis, plant the bulbs in a pot just large enough to accommodate the particular size that you have and no more. About 25 to 30% of the bulb should be above the soil.
It’s always wise to use well-draining soil to prevent root rot from overwatering. They also require a well-lit, cool location and temperatures of 22 – 24°C, and no feeding until later in their growing cycle.
Again, it is best to bring them along slowly to develop compact, sturdy stems. Their leaves may or may not open easily, so don’t be concerned – what’s important is to have nice, strong stems. As they begin to flower, you can extend their bloom time by keeping them cool, around 12 – 18°C; some growers even put them in floral coolers to hold them back.
Keep them just moist. As each flower stem finishes blooming, cut it off, but let the leaves grow, and keep them in a cool window until they can go in the garden next spring. You can even start several bulbs in sequence to enjoy continuous blooms from Christmas until Valentine’s Day.
When the weather outside is frightful, indoor flower bulbs give us a chance to make our lives a bit more delightful. They may not be outdoors, but with a little love and care, they are happy to cheer up our homes all winter long.