Layering bulbs when forcing

ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)November 7, 2012

After reading Art Wolk's excellent book on bulb forcing, I went to a garden centre, bought a large plastic pot and 130 assorted hardy spring bulbs. Following Art's advice in his book, I planted all of these in the same pot, in various layers. I think there were four layers in all. Art suggests planting forced bulbs very close together, even touching sometimes, which is contrary to what many others recommend.

The bulbs planted are as follows:

5 Narcissus Glen Clova (yellow/orange)

5 Narcissus Fortissimo (yellow/orange)

5 Narcissus Raspberry Ring (white/light orange)

5 Hyacinth Purple Voice (purple-pink, not true purple)

10 Tulip Princess Irene (red/purple)

10 Tulip Sweetheart (yellow/white)

10 Tulip Praestan's Unicum (red with variegated foliage)

20 Muscari armeniacum (blue)

10 Iris Danfordae (yellow)

10 Crocus Rembrance (purple)

10 Crocus Large Flowering Purple

The pot was watered well, and now sits in my cold cellar for approximately 11-12 weeks, the end of January.

I have the feeling that this is going to look really great or be a total dud. Have to wait and see. My choice of bulbs was limited to what was on sale at the nursery. For example, I had wanted blue hyacinths, but none were left. I had also wanted some dwarf narcissus, such as Tete a Tete, but again, there were none. I had to guess a bit on the actual blooming times, so not quite sure if there will be any colour clashes or not. I am hoping to get a nice sequence of bloom, at least 4 weeks.

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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

You really did dive in, good for you! It should look nice for a long season provided the blooming heights all work out. I never did this my self (layering in pots) but that's because I don't like the look of any fresh new flowers coming up between old fading blooms.

I do have plenty of bulbs outside layered in flower beds, and it's nice to have patches of crocus first and then hyacinths and then tulips and then perennials on top. Always something new coming on to hide and replace last month's show.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:33PM
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kimpa(z6b PA)

I would love to see pictures of how it transforms through the weeks. Would you be able to to that for us? I have always wanted to see how they really turn out. What a nice project to look forward to!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:39AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

This layering thing is new for me. I have never even tried it outdoors in my flower beds. I guess I worried about the bulbs crowding each other out. After my big indoor pot flowers, I will separate the different kinds of bulbs and plant them out in the garden. Don't want to waste all that money spent on bulbs. The forced tulips are expendable, but the other species should carry on fine once they have a chance to bulk up again.
I will try to take some pics at different stages, but no promises. There are photos in Art's book showing this same thing.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Art_Wolk

Thanks you, ontnative, for the compliment on "Bulb Forcing for Beginners and the Seriously Smitten." I'm glad you enjoyed it!

How are you going to force the bulbs after giving them a chill?

Art Wolk

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:45PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Art, the bulbs are all in a large pot in my cold cellar, where they will stay until approximately the end of January. Then I will put the pot in a low temp room(a spare bedroom with the heat vent closed) where I hope the flowering will begin.

The top layer of bulbs are starting to sprout up now (Dec 23). I hope they don't get too tall before the pot is due to come out of the cold cellar in a month's time.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Art_Wolk

Ontnative: It sounds like you have a good system, as long as the temperature stays between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. About the top layer bulbs: I think they'll only be a problem if the temperature is too warm. If you start to see flower buds, you might consider placing them in a colder part of the cellar, as long as it's above 32 degrees (0 degrees Celsius). Best regards, Art

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 4:41PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

Thanks for the advice, Art. If I need a colder spot, I can put the container in my unheated garage.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 9:44PM
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Art_Wolk

Ontnative:

Sounds fine as long as your pots don't freeze solid.

Enjoy your flowers!

Art

    Bookmark   January 14, 2013 at 3:26PM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I took my big pot of forced bulbs out of the cold cellar on Jan 21, and put it in an unheated bedroom in front of a southwest-facing window. The first shoots are 2-4" high now.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:20AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

I took my big pot of forced bulbs out of the cold cellar on Jan 21, and put it in an unheated bedroom in front of a southwest-facing window. The first shoots are 2-4" high now.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Art_Wolk

Good for you! Now comes pure excitement.

Art

P.S. Just curious: were the roots coming out of the bottom when you retrieved your pot?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:38AM
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