While much attention may still be focused on planting spring flowering bulbs outdoors, this is also a good time to be buying and planting winter flowering bulbs. No, I didn’t just lose my mind – that happened a long time ago. Of course, I’m talking about bulbs that can be forced into bloom indoors this winter. A lot of people shy away from forcing bulbs indoors because they don’t want to fuss with the prolonged cold treatment (typically 6 to 12 weeks) needed to prepare them for forcing. Well, that cold requirement only applies to bulbs such as crocus, hyacinth, tulips and, daffodils which are cold hardy. On the other hand, tender bulbs, such as paper white narcissus and amaryllis, don’t need this pre-treatment.
Amaryllis is clearly the Queen of tender bulbs for winter forcing. Its huge blossoms are incredibly colorful and beautiful. Though very easy to force, here are a few rules to ensure good results:
1. Use a pot which is about 6 to 8 inches deep and with a top diameter that is 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. I prefer to use a clay pot since soil in such a pot dries faster than in plastic or glazed pots and thus reduces the chances of bulb rot.
2. Pot up the bulb so that the top 1/3 to ½ of the bulb is exposed above soil level.
3. Water the soil thoroughly at first and then sparingly until growth appears.
4. Place the potted bulb in a sunny window at a temperature of 60-70 degrees F.
5. When the plant begins to bloom, move it away from direct sunlight and to a cooler location.