Choose a pot of bulbs that have buds but not blooms.
There is nothing that shouts “spring!” as loudly as a pot of spring bulbs in full bloom. Cheerful golden mini-daffodils, lovely pink or azure hyacinths or jaunty purple, white or yellow crocus all seem able to make us believe that spring is just around the corner.
These pots of bulbs make great gifts, and because they are relatively inexpensive, gardeners can quite easily treat themselves to a pot or two. They are available not only at garden centres but at many retail outlets also. A bit of care when choosing a pot of bulbs will pay big dividends in that the bloom period can be extended substantially from what it might have been had too hasty a choice been made.
Choose a pot of bulbs that have buds but not blooms. Each day the plants are in bloom on the store shelf is a day less of bloom that the purchaser will enjoy. Daffodils are best chosen when the buds are showing colour to ensure that they will open. Make sure the plants look healthy and the soil has not been allowed to dry out, which could lead to the buds withering and not opening.
Hyacinths should also be in moist soil and the buds should be nestled down within the rosettes of leaves. If you prefer a certain colour – and they come in several shades of pink and blue as well as white, choose one whose bud is beginning to show colour if there is no plant tag in the pot.
Crocus blooms have the shortest life, so it is imperative that they not be in bloom and that the buds are plump and healthy looking. Foliage of all bulbs should be green and healthy and not be yellow or elongated – conditions which could indicate that the bulbs have been allowed to dry out or have been deprived of light for a long period. If you are looking for a pot of flowering spring bulbs, you will be lucky if you hit a shop just after a new shipment has arrived, as these will be in the best condition. Plants quickly deteriorate in the harsh conditions of retail centres not set up to accommodate live plants and lacking knowledgeable staff to care for them.
When you get them home, bulbs should be watered regularly and given the best light possible. Try to keep them in as cool a location as possible. If your home is overly warm, perhaps you could find a cooler location in which to put the pot during the night.
If you want to plant the bulbs in your outdoor garden after they have bloomed, keep them growing until late May by watering and feeding them and giving them direct sun if possible. In May they can be transplanted outside or they can be left growing in the pot until midsummer at which time they will naturally dry off and the pot can be stored in a cool, dark place until it is time to plant the bulbs outdoors in the fall. Otherwise, after the blooms fade, and you have enjoyed the wonderful flowers of your spring bulbs, consign the pot’s contents to the compost bin, with the knowledge it will help nourish your outdoor garden when the compost is added to it.
– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba