Press-Republican

Columns

October 21, 2012

Enjoying flowers year-round

Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to let cabin fever bring you down. While there may no longer be flowers blooming outdoors, October is a great time to begin preparing your favorite spring bulbs for winter flowering indoors. Imagine pots of colorful, fragrant spring flowers (tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses) on your windowsill in February.

Given the proper treatment, spring bulbs can be “forced,” or induced into blooming indoors, well ahead of their natural schedule and completely outside of their natural environment. Commercial growers in North America force millions of bulbs annually. They will often order their bulbs from suppliers in the United States and in Holland a full year before offering bulb pots to customers in stores. And, since some bulbs bloom more quickly than others, they will often combine several types of bulbs in one container, which allows for a prolonged and changing show of color.

Cornell University is home to the Flower Bulb Research Program, which has been quintessential in developing techniques for forcing flower bulbs into readiness just in time for the holidays and other market opportunities. Research for the program is substantially supported by the Dutch flower bulb export industry, as well as U.S. companies and foundations.

Home gardeners can easily force spring-blooming bulbs, too. Start by selecting quality bulbs and potting them in clean, sterile pots. Use high-quality potting mix or prepare a potting soil that includes garden loam, peat moss and sand. You may opt to add perlite or vermiculite, and maybe bone meal as well. The objective is to find a balance between good drainage and sufficient moisture retention. Bulbs store their own food, so fertilization and feeding are non-issues.

Handle bulbs carefully at all times. Plant them so that they are close together, but not overcrowded. When planting tulips, keep in mind that the largest leaf will always emerge and grow on the flat side of the bulb, so placing the flat side toward the outer edge of the pot will allow the leaf to attractively drape itself over the side of the pot. Don’t twist bulbs into the soil or bury them completely. Leave the ‘noses’ of the bulbs exposed. Once the bulbs are planted, saturate the soil immediately and, thereafter, do not allow the soil to become dry or to freeze.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time