February 2013 Cuttings
"Cuttings" is your source for garden updates and horticultural tips from Reeves-Reed Arboretum's horticulture staff. Check back monthly to find out what's blooming at the Arboretum, get the inside scoop on upcoming events, and learn some timely tips you can put to use in your own garden.
February Garden Tips: Forcing Bulbs Indoors
Let's face it – by the time February rolls around, we're all becoming a little bit desperate for spring. The frigid weather, the gray skies... well, ok, let's not dwell on it too much! Instead, why not beckon the springtime a bit closer with an indoor display of vibrant blooming bulbs? Forcing bulbs indoors is incredibly easy for even the beginning gardener, and the results are guaranteed to be fantastic.
Amaryllis 'Blossom Peacock' blooming indoors at Reeves-Reed Arboretum (photo: Shari Edelson)
For greatest ease in forcing your bulbs, select species that do not require vernalization, a cold winter resting period, in order to bloom. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp.) and paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceus) are two such species – once you plant them and begin watering, they'll begin growing so quickly you won't believe your eyes. It is possible to force temperate-climate bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus, and hyacinth, indoors, but in order to do so successfully you'll need to store the bulbs in a cold dark place for at least 10 weeks to simulate winter conditions, effectively "priming" the bulbs to begin their cycle of spring growth once moved to a warmer, brighter spot.
Planting Your Bulbs Indoors
Select an attractive container for your bulbs – a ceramic pot or glass bulb vase are lovely options. If using a pot, fill with a well-draining potting mix and then insert the bulb (root end down, sprouting end up!), making sure that the soil covers no more than the bottom half of the bulb. If desired, "top-dress" the soil with moss, sphagnum, or another attractive material. Not only will this help your indoor bulb display to look more natural, it will also prevent potting soil from washing out of the container when you water. If using a bulb vase or other glass container for your bulbs, fill the bottom of the vase with an attractive material - pebbles, marbles, or even seashells will do nicely! Place your bulbs on top of this substrate and fill the bottom of the vase with water – as the bulbs begin to grow, their roots will reach down into the water at the bottom of the container.
Caring for Your Forced Bulbs
Once planted, place your bulbs in a bright spot indoors. Ideally, the room temperature should be between 65 and 70 degrees F. Test the moisture level of the soil with your fingers to determine when watering is needed – the potting soil should be kept evenly moist but should never be allowed to become soggy, as this will cause your bulbs to rot. If forcing your bulbs in a vase, maintain the water level just below the bottom of the bulb. As the flowers begin to grow, rotate the container ¼ turn every week or so to encourage straight stems – otherwise, your bulbs may lean dramatically toward the nearest window!
Finally, sit back and enjoy – amaryllis usually bloom 6 to 8 weeks after planting, while paperwhites can go from dormant bulb to full bloom in as little as 2 weeks!
If you're interested in learning more about indoor bulb forcing, you can join Shari Edelson, Reeves-Reed Arboretum's Director of Horticulture, for an in-person workshop and demonstration on Friday, February 15 at the New Jersey Flower & Garden Show! Click here for more information.
Volunteer in Our Gardens!
Saturday, February 9: Saturday Volunteers
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
If you love working outdoors in beautifully brisk winter weather, we'd love to have your help at our upcoming February volunteer day! Please join us for a morning of fun work as we get the grounds ready for spring.
Saturday, March 2: Volunteer with Sculptor Tom Holmes!
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Reeves-Reed Arboretum is thrilled to be featuring the work of Tom Holmes, nationally respected artist and scupltor, in our 2013 ART in the Garden exhibition – and we'd like to invite YOU to be a part of the creative process! Come out on Saturday, March 2 from 9:00 am to noon and help Tom collect natural materials for his site-specific sculpture installation.
NOTE TO VOLUNTEERS: Due to ongoing construction at the Arboretum, volunteers should park on Hobart Avenue opposite our main gates and enter the Arboretum through the pedestrian gate at the main entrance.
To sign up, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum, please contact Lisa Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-273-8787 ext. 2222.