We have decided to try and grow some flowering bulbs to enjoy in the house for winter; in an ideal world we would like them to flower around Christmas. We chose Narcissus ‘Paper-white’, which are meant to be idiot proof - I guess time will tell! As we are hoping to be able to gift these at Christmas, the kids started by giving the pots a couple of coats of paint. The plan is to add some embellishment such as ribbon, when we bring them in to the house to flower.
There loads of instructions available on the internet, having had a trawl through, we came to the following conclusions. They can flower in anything from 4-12 weeks. They may or may not need a period in a cold dark place. You can grow them in or on soil, gravel, sand, marbles or pretty much anything you can dream up (wonder if lego would work?) You should sit them on top of the soil, or under it, or somewhere in between! In conclusion, sometimes you can have too much information! Having thoroughly confused ourselves, this is the method we came up with...
1. We filled our pots 3/4 full with bulb fibre.
2. We placed our bulbs, root end down, on the soil, and filled around the bulbs with more fibre so that just their tips were still showing, and gave them a good water.
3. We put our pots in our dark, dank outbuilding - the plan is to leave them in here for about a month to give the bulbs a chance to develop a root system.
4. We will bring the first pots into the house once the shoots from the bulbs are about 1.5-2" long.
5. We will probably stagger bringing them inside to increase our chances of them flowering when we want them to.
6. Once you bring the pots in the advice is to initially keep them in a cool room away from bright light to allow the leaves to green up.
7. Then move them close to a window in warmer surroundings
8. Apparently, once inside, watering them with a 5% alcohol solution (white spirits such as gin or vodka) will encourage strong growth and stop them getting 'leggy' and toppling over.
9. You may wish to wear gloves when handling the bulbs as they can sometimes cause skin irritation.
So to summarise: about a month in a cool dark shed, followed with about 6 weeks inside, leaving 2 weeks left over to tweak our method! We will update our post with our results when we have them!