Water does the trick for some bulbs

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you count down the days until the spring-blooming bulbs you planted in fall show their colors, pick up a few water-activated bulbs to bring color into your home while you wait for your garden to bloom.

Unlike many other bulbs that are activated to bloom by cold weather, amaryllis and paper-white narcissus are both bulbs that are triggered by water.

Amaryllis: Tim Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Gardens, holds out an amaryllis bulb to demonstrate its size. The bulbs can be planted indoors to bring results while waiting for your spring bulbs to bloom.

“For anyone who just can’t wait until their bulbs bloom in the spring, these can really help pass the time,” said Tim Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Gardens. “They’re great for children’s projects, too, because the kids can watch them grow every step of the way.”


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Narcissus, which is from the daffodil family, can be planted in a container filled with loose gravel or pebbles. Fill the container with water to cover the rocks and insert bulbs in the dish, pointed side up, by nestling them into the stones. Place the dish in a warm, well-lighted indoor location, such as a sunny window. Keep the stones constantly wet. Paper-whites usually bloom in about six weeks.

Amaryllis, which are bulbs about the size of a large softball, should be soaked in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting in a pot slightly larger than the bulb. Plant the bulb up to its neck in potting compost, being careful not to damage the roots. Place in a warm spot with direct light and water sparingly until the stem appears. Then, as the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. Bulbs usually flower in seven to 10 weeks.