A monthly membership celebrating seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do

You’ve viewed

You haven't yet viewed any products on our store. If you've been here before, you may need to sign in.

Journal

How to force small spring bulbs indoors

spring bulbs

When we think of growing Spring bulbs indoors we often think of hyacinths and paper white narcissi, maybe amaryllis. We think of the pots of ready planted, often quite boring, bulbs that line garden centre shelves at Christmas.

But all spring bulbs can be grown to flower indoors and, given our weather and the fact that they are often tiny, it is often the best way to actually see them properly.

At this time of year my home is full of flowering bulbs - I use them to help me through the part of the year which is darkest, they bring a bit of nature into my daily life. My favourites for January are snowdrops and crocus.

You can grow bulbs specifically for flowering indoors - this involves careful monitoring of temperature and light. I am not good at keeping track of things so instead I use 2 cheats ways of bringing spring flowers indoors.

arranging spring bulbs

Bulbs that transplant in the green - snowdrops, bluebells, snowflakes.

The first method that I use is to dig actual bulbs out of my garden as soon as I see them beginning to shoot and to carefully transplant them into containers for the house.

This is an ideal method for any bulbs that like to be transplanted 'in the green' (i.e. immediately after flowering) as you can bring them into the house to flower and then return them to the garden afterwards without damaging the plant.

  • Choose a clump of bulbs where you can see the flowers are already there.
  • Carefully dig up going much deeper than you think with your trowel - bulbs will drag themselves deep into the soil so they may well be much deeper than when you planted them - wiggle your trowel to make sure you are under the bulbs and not just going to dig out the flowers.
  • Put 2-3 cm grit into your container and then wedge your bulbs on top. You don't want to disturb the bulbs too much - you want them to be packed together as they will then hold each other up. The container doesn't need to have drainage.
  • Cover the soil with gravel, moss or dried leaves.
  • The arrangement will last longer if you can keep it cool - I compromise by having them in a heated house during the day and then on the doorstep overnight. The warmer it is the taller the flowers will get.
  • Once the flowers begin to fade plant back in the garden - either directly where they came from or separate into smaller clumps.

arranging spring bulbs

Bulbs that like to be planted as dry bulbs (crocus, grape hyacinths, snakehead fritillaries)

The other method is to start with potted bulbs. You can either buy them from a garden centre (the outdoor bit) or you can plant your own in Autumn and thenbring them indoors. These crocus have been my favourite flowers so far this year and they were bought as pots intended for putting together a spring planter and were less that £1 a pot.

  • If you are growing your own bulbs you need to plant into small pots or trays (mushroom trays work well) in the Autumn - leave somewhere sheltered but outside and protect from slugs and mice.
  • If you are buying pots, look for good deals in garden centres and supermarkets - they are usually intended as spring bedding so can often be bought cheaply in bulk. My favourites are crocus and snakehead fritillaries.
  • Add 2-3 cm grit to the bottom of your container and replant your bulbs into the container. Water sparingly.
  • Stagger your pots - leave some in the cold and bring others into the warmth to bloom, they will respond to the heat, the ones outside will stay in suspended animation, the ones indoors begin to flower.
  • After they have finished flowering you can plant them outside - they will recover but make sure they are watered for their first few weeks back in the soil. If you haven't got a garden then these make the ideal guerrilla gardening plants.

I love being able to look carefully at these tiny flowers - to see the delicate markings of the snowdrops, to actually be able to appreciate the purity of the crocus without them being splatted to the ground in a rainstorm (crocus in my garden look like litter 95% of the time because of the weather). I hope that you enjoy them too.

Comments: 1 (Add)

Lesley (Insta lilybabylulu) on January 19 2019 at 08:58

Thank you so much for sharing Jane. I have some snowdrops just budding in the garden which will later need dividing. Today I shall bring some indoors 😁

Snapdragon social

I am a bit of a womble.  My Studio is a layering of things that have been found, things that have been saved, things that have been given to me - I like to be surrounded by a bit of history. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I am known as an avid skip diver so people kindly keep me things.  This weekend I am off to pick up 13 sash windows rescued from a skip.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This is my dye cupboard - the mordants and other powders, the piles of fabrics and yarns, my newly started record book and the glue to paste the swatches in.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It has had a hard life - the back is patched with hinges as plates, there are many, many layers of paint and a door has gone missing along the way.  It is perfect.⁠⠀
Back when I grew flowers commercially the area that is now ‘the orchardy bit’ was rows and rows of spring bulbs.⁠ In the years where the deer didn’t eat the tulips they looked magnificent, stripe upon stripe of pure pigment. ⠀
⁠⠀
When I turned my back on growing for money, we simply took out the beds and levelled it, turning it back to grass.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
The tulips quickly gave up - never brilliantly perennial here anyway, they took the opportunity to fade out fast.⁠ Well if you don’t want us . . . ⠀
⁠⠀
The narcissi loved it though and every year appeared back in their serried rows through the grass. ⁠There was something disturbingly grave like about them.
⁠⠀
My planting  ever since has all been an attempt to disguise that - feathering the edges, making little islands, trying to make it all look haphazard.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Gradually it is working - this is the edge of what would have been a bed of Narcissi geranium (best vase life, along with best scent) - now happily interspersed with a pheasants eye and a little lemon coloured one I have lost the name of.
Abundance.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
And the hedges beginning to vibrate with that gloriously specific spring green.
This week has been about experimenting.⁠⠀
Experimenting with all the ways to dye with daffodils, experimenting with the new e-course part of my website, experimenting with shooting and editing videos on my phone.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
My business hero is @sethgodin and his mantra is 'ship it' - a way of saying that the best way to learn is to make things and get them out in front of people before they are polished and 'perfect'.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
So I took his advice and combined all three experiments. Today's newsletters will have links to a free e-course all about dyeing wool with daffodils.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I have been absolutely amazed by the colour you get from faded daffodil flowers (see the second photo). It is a bright, yet somehow soft, golden yellow which is now adding an amazing zing to my pile of plant dyed fabrics.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I am prone to obsessions.  My brain hones in on topics and rabbit holes away, a constant background chatter to my life.⁠⠀
⠀
It annoys the people I live with as my world shrinks to one topic. ⠀
⁠⠀
My camera roll shows me it is three years ago this week that I returned to natural dyeing with plants, concentrating on using only the plants growing within a couple of miles.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Three years of experimenting with plant after plant, three years of googling and reading obscure articles and piling up samples. ⁠three years of conversation about mordants and modifiers. ⠀
⁠⠀
Three years is a short time in such a slow craft. A blink of an eye. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
But already I can see a difference in my skill.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This is a corner of the cupboard where I stash my fabrics and yarns building up enough for a project.  These have all been dyed this year - with barks and cones. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
This week I am dyeing with bright deadheaded daffodils and the golden yellows will join these soft terracottas and pinks while I dream up something to make.
I grow very few white flowers. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
White summer flowers tend to mark in the rain - white roses look like discarded tissues, white dahlias spot brown.  Even cosmos purity - which I do grow - goes droopy and grey in a way that the coloured versions don't.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
The petals of spring bulbs however seem rain resistant - so I can indulge my love of white flowers and enjoy them backlit by the morning sun on the Studio window shelf.
Bright and light and pretty.
I am spending a lot of time in the greenhouse at the moment - playing an endless game of jenga with my seed trays.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Many of the seedlings are for the community gardens - being planted out gradually under fleece. We are biding time, taking the cautious route so that we minimise the risk of everything being wiped out by a very cold night.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
We still have a full month of frosts to go here - little ones of -2 or 3 are manageable, an extra covering of fleece, some bricks to act like a storage heater.  Most hardy seedlings will recover from getting their tips nipped a bit.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Last year though we had a really cold night in mid May, when growth was going well and sappily. It blasted the blossom and killed many of my hardy veg too. Slightly too late to resow.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Speak to the older generation of gardeners and they all sowed and planted out much later than is the fashion today.  They perhaps had a point.
I wrote in my Friday letter this week about the sudden lifting of the uncertainty and inertia that had been dogging me for a few months.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It's always easier to write about these things once they are resolved - do you find that?  Once I am unstuck and lolloping along happily again, I can look at it all and not get sucked down.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Of course all this talk of getting going again, of new plans and exciting things . . . . it all actually means hard work. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Head down, working through an actual written plan kind of hard work.  Not always my natural strength.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
So yesterday I rearranged the studio window shelves and cleared the working table, ready for an uninterrupted start today. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
An attempt to keep momentum.
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

Learn more about why here

Loading