Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What's Next, Part I

Snow on the ground and nights in the 30s means winter is coming or in some locales, has arrived. Rejoice or lament, there are plenty of things to do inside to get your green fix (not that kind of green fix).  I'm talking about easy and mostly low-cost foliage futzing about, just take your pick - plant amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs, or force spring bulbs now for late winter enjoyment. How about planting some unique glass terrariums or decorating with the easiest of care air plants, aka - tillandsias or beyond gorgeous orchids?  For your homegrown fix consider growing micro-greens, sprouts or planting garlic in a pretty container to use as chives.  And if you're creative and love DIY projects for the holidays or anytime, I've linked some websites that will expand your selection and possibly require a second glue gun (aren't they just about the best invention ever)?  This is Part I, check back soon for Part II.

Holiday Bulbs: 

Start amaryllis bulbs indoors in November for late December/early January bloom and stagger planting into the New Year.  Have fun choosing colors and sizes.  They range in shades of red, salmon, pink, green, yellow, white or dramatic bicolored or striped colors. You get what you pay for, smaller bulbs found in discount or box stores may not have the robust flowering that says "wow!"   

Use new potting soil in 6-inch pots (or a container that is just an inch larger than the bulb) with a third of the bulb showing above the pot rim. Water well and place in a cool area. Hold off on watering until growth appears, then water more frequently and move to a sunny location.  Quality bulbs should produce two flower stalks with four flowers on each stem.  For more information click here - amaryllis

Paperwhite narcissus bulbs are quick and super easy to grow in either water or soil. Garden centers stock paperwhites all through the winter season so plant them now and often. For family fun ask your kids or grandkids to help. Use a glass container filled with a 2-inch or more layer of pebbles or decorative rock, place the bulbs on top and fill in around them with more pebbles to keep them in place. Add water until it touches the bottom of the bulbs and maintain that level. If planting in fresh potting soil, sink the bulbs slightly in a soil filled container.  Use a container with drainage holes, if not then start with a 1/2 inch layer of small rock pebbles below the potting soil.

Paperwhites just about to bloom

Place the container in a bright room, not too warm (70 is just fine). They start blooming as early as three weeks.  Use decorative or seasonal twigs, or stakes to support the stems.  If you want to keep the stems shorter, try mixing in a very small amount of vodka, gin or rubbing alcohol in the water filled container (don't use with soil planted bulbs).  More - Pickling your Paperwhites.

After they are finished blooming (flowers turn brownish and you'll know they are gone), toss in the compost pile. Clean the container and start another set! 

I found this giant glass vase on the sale rack at a furniture store.  It's become my favorite way to grow and seasonally display paperwhites.  I use artificial berry branches after Thanksgiving through the holidays.  If using fresh branches of any kind, you'll have to set them in their own tiny vase within the vase because live branches will break down in the water causing discoloration (of the water).  

Some of my favorite DIY garden links (some sites require registration): 


Gardening on Pinterest 

Apartment Therapy Fall Wreaths 

DIY Centerpieces 



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