Looking for a little pick-me-up for the winter doldrums? Try growing flowers inside your home. Hyacinths, crocuses and narcissus bulbs all can be grown indoors in soil-less, containers, bringing the beauty and warmth of spring even when the wind is whipping outside.
To do so, try these two processes: The first is forcing, which simply means that the flowers will bloom prior to the time it would naturally bloom outdoors. The second method is hydroculture, which is growing bulbs without soil in containers. By combining these two processes, flowers can bloom, root and bulb in a glass container.
You Will Need
- Glass Rectangular Containers or Special Hyacinth Jars. Hyacinth jars allow the bulb to rest at the top of the jar while the roots trail below into the water.
- Activated Charcoal Chips (optional). Help keep the water acidic and prevents algae growth.
- Pebbles or Marbles. These serve as bedding material to hold the bulbs in place and to house the root system.
- Flowering Bulbs of any of following: hyacinths, crocuses, or narcissi.
- Soluble Plant Food & Water which encourages plant growth.
- Paper Shopping Bag to cover bulbs and container during the cool, dormancy stage.
Planting Hyacinths and Crocuses in Hyacinth Jars (in water only):
If you have special hyacinth jars you can grow hyacinths and crocuses in water alone as the hyacinth jar is designed to keep the bulb upright.
- Simply fill the glasses with enough water to barely touch the base of the bulb as it rests in the container.
- Add a small piece of activated charcoal to the water in the glass container to prevent algae growth.
- Cover the bulb and container with a paper bag. Place the planted container in a cool, dark place around 55°F. Leave until roots have developed and the top growth has begun.
- Check water after three weeks. Add water as needed, keeping the water level just below the bottom of the bulb.
- Bring the planted container out of the cool, dark room and place it where it can receive light to continue the growth and blooming process.
Planting Narcissus “Paper Whites” in Glass Containers (in pebbles and water):
- Choose a glass container at least 3” to 4” inches deep and wide enough to allow 2” inches between the bulb and the container sides. Rectangular shaped containers are ideal for housing a row of 3 to 5 bulbs.
- Line the bottom of the glass container with a thin layer of activated charcoal chips to prevent algae growth.
- Add either pebbles or marbles to fill the container to just above half full.
- Make a slight depression in the pebbles for each bulb to rest on top. Don’t bury the bulbs in the pebbles. When growing more than one bulb in the same container, leave space between each bulb.
- Add water to the container until it reaches the bulb’s base. Add soluble plant food to the water, following label recommendations. Always keep the water level just beneath the bulb.
- Narcissus tazetta varieties don’t require a cool, dark dormancy period to grow. Flowering of this lovely and fragrant flower should take place in just six weeks. Other types of blooming bulbs can be grown in pebbles and water, but will need to be covered and kept in a cool, dark place for 8 to 10 weeks before displaying in a lit room.
Keep watering the potted bulb plants even after flowering has ceased in order to keep the plant alive. Then, plant them outdoors, once all danger of frost has passed.
After graduating from Bates College in 2009, Kristen attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she works at Orion magazine."