Years ago, Maria Robledo send me this photograph of a winter crocus bulb just on the verge of blooming. It had been sitting in a dish in her kitchen, no water, no nothing, when it sent out shoots. Needs nothing but light to illuminate us, wrote Maria. Since then, I’ve relied on spring bulbs as one of the inexpensive “little gifts” I give around the holidays, for their ability to bring a breath of spring winter slowly, miraculously, over several weeks to people I care about.
Paperwhites are usually the most readily available bulbs around the holidays; even my local hardware store carries them for about $1 a piece. But hyacinths, crocus and Amaryllis work in exactly the same way: you simply set the root ends in pebbles or soil, or in a glass over water…and let them….grow.
Here are the simple instructions, from garden store Terrain:
Forcing on pebbles or soil: Choose a container that allows at least an inch or more of space below the bulb for the roots to grow. Fill the container with pebbles or soil and place the bulbs on top, leaving the tips of the bulbs exposed. Water thoroughly, and keep soil moist as bulbs are growing. Place container in a warm, sunny location (near a window is best).
Forcing in water: Choose a vase designed to suspend a bulb. Fill with water up to the base of the bulb; if water level is too high, rotting may occur. Place vase in a warm, sunny location (near a window is best).
Terrain sells recycled glass bulb vase for just this purpose, although a jar or glass will do fine.
But really, the bulbs just want to grow, and if they’ve been stored properly by your seller, need little encouragement.
I usually bundle bulbs in tissue paper or a paper or cello bag punched with holes, along with instructions for forcing printed on nice paper with one of the photos here as illustration.
You can make special bags or presentation for them, or include pebbles and/or a container.
…a curiously wondrous gift for little money…
…and a wonderful gift to myself…