Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 17, 2018

Winter could be perfect tulip time

By Jean Thomson | Oct 12, 2017

If you run out of garden space while planting tulip bulbs this month, consider potting up the excess supply for winter blooms. Just as many gardeners enjoy paperwhite narcissi blooming in February, they can enjoy colorful tulips as well.

Any container with drainage holes in the bottom can be used for forcing tulips. Start by partially filling the container you select with a good quality potting soil, then place the bulbs on the soil surface. Turn each bulb so that its flattest side faces the wall of the container. This will encourage the largest leaf from each bulb to grow over the container’s edge, creating an attractive border.

The number of bulbs per container should be determined mainly by the container’s size. For a five inch pot, try using four or five bulbs. In a six inch pot, you may be able to use six or seven.

Continue to add soil, but do not cover bulbs completely. The top of each bulb should stick up from the soil and should reach just below the container’s rim.

Be sure to label each pot with the name and date of planting. Water each container well.

To bloom, tulips must experience three to four months of temperatures in the 40s. For many gardeners, that will mean finding refrigerator space for the containers. However, a root cellar or an outdoor trench may be used successfully.

If you do opt for the refrigerator, bag your containers in plastic. This will prevent damage from the ethylene gas given off by ripening apples and other fruits.

Start to remove containers once the bulbs have had a minimum of 12 weeks of cold. Keep them in a cool spot with low light for a few days, until the burgeoning shoots turn green. Then move them to a bright spot with normal indoor temperatures.

Keep the bulbs watered well, and turn the containers regularly to promote straight growth. Typically, you will have blooms three to four weeks after the bulbs are removed from cold storage.

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