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Potted pleasures

Come April, I know it's time to start thinking about getting in the bulbs for a spectacular spring display, and while it never seems to work out that way for me, either due to a non-existent green thumb or the fact that bulbs hate me, I just love posting an article each year simply to look at the images!

 

ABOVE: Spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths that are normally sold in modest plastic pots, lend themselves to a variety of creative decorating ideas.

Many people do not have large gardens, either by design or through necessity. Fortunately, a number of bulbs lend themselves to being grown successfully in pots, tubs, window boxes or other containers, just the thing to beautify a patio, poolside, entrance way, courtyard or your dining room table. Even an old wheelbarrow or boot will do, as long as good drainage is provided.

Nothing quite matches the regal beauty of potted narcissi in the home and what can be more charming than sweet-scented hyacinths planted in a shallow dish? If you are want your bulbs for indoor charm, they are best started off outside and brought indoors when they are almost in flower.

Special care must be taken to keep the roots of all bulbs grown in containers moist at all times. The soil in containers tends to dry out fast, especially in sunny situations, and even more so if the containers are placed on a heat-reflective surface such as a patio floor. It is best to grow all containerised bulbs in semi-shade. Water your containers once a day, making sure that the water is seen to drain out of the bottom of the container. It is essential that all water drains away quickly, as bulbs cannot tolerate submersion in water without air.

Soil in containers and pots should be light, airy and friable, and provide good drainage. Do not use saucers, or trays under pots or containers, as this will cause waterlogging of the soil. If saucers are used, empty them out an hour or so after watering.

If you would like to save your bulbs, take them outdoors after flowering, placing them at first in a shady spot to get them used to the extra light and gradually moving them into more sunlight over a period of a week or so to prevent sunburn. Then plunge them, pot and all, into garden soil with the rim of the pot just under the soil surface. Feed them regularly with Hadeco bulb food or Pokon food sticks, and keep them moist until the beginning of dormancy. They can then be lifted and stored, just like bulbs planted in open ground.

If you do not have a garden in which to plant bulbs or a balcony on which to keep potted bulbs, you do not have to miss out on reaping the benefits of their magnificent blooms – you can grow them hydroponically on a windowsill. Best results are obtained from hyacinths and “Paper White” narcissus.

The easiest way to grow your hyacinths on water is in a specially designed glass vase, shaped something like an hourglass. This can be purchased, along with your bulbs, from your local nurseryman.

Fragrant Bouquet

Plant your own bouquet flowers for an especially personal touch for your wedding. Your blooms will be as fresh as can be. Tie a ribbon around the stems to hide the floral tape, and pop the arrangement into a vase with a small amount of water at the bottom until ready to use.

Buy green and watch them grow

For longest enjoyment, choose potted plants with tight buds or barely open flowers, not those already in full bloom. In these plants, the flower is fully formed and ready to burst forth for your enjoyment at home. In winter, it’s just as much fun to watch the green plants grow as it is to watch the velvety flowers bloom!

Dress down or up

Potted bulbs are great displayed casually in their plastic nursery pots or wrapped in decorative foil. Or, they can easily go upscale, dolled up in myriad ways by using more decorative containers, repotting, or using the double pot cachepot technique.

William Wordsworth

janice anderssen - hadeco - christian science monitor - sunset publishing