While you may have already planted spring-flowering bulbs outdoors, there are still more bulbs to plant. Fall is the perfect time to teach your kids about the process of forcing spring-flowering bulbs indoors. They may not realize that many holiday plants, such as Easter lilies and amaryllis, are forced into blooming for our enjoyment at times when they naturally wouldn’t. You can do the same with tulips, daffodils, crocus, and other bulbs. Here’s how to get your kids involved:
Select an assortment of spring-flowering bulbs and explain to your kids that they need a winter cold period in order to flower next spring. In the ground this naturally happens, but if you’re growing them indoors, you’ll need to create the cold for them.
Fill clay or plastic pots with moistened potting soil. Have the kids select different-sized bulbs to plant in the pots. Ask them about the planting depth. Generally, you plant bulbs at a depth three times the diameter of the bulb. Since the bulbs are growing in pots, they can be tucked in close together. Have your kids experiment with planting bulbs at different depths in the pot. For example, plant large daffodils in the bottom of the pot and small crocus on top. Ask your kids what they think will happen when the bulbs start growing.s naturally happens, but if you’re growing them indoors, you’ll need to create the cold for them.
Once the pots are planted, have your kids research how much chilling time the various types of bulbs need. There will be some variation, but generally the bulbs need to have temperatures between 32 degrees F and 50 degrees F for about fourteen to sixteen weeks. Have the kids calculate when the bulbs should be blooming if they are stored for that long in the cold. Remember, the bulbs will need an additional few weeks to grow and flower in a warm room.
Have your kids brainstorm various places to chill the bulbs. Basements, root cellars, and refrigerators are all possibilities. Explain that pots of bulbs in the refrigerator will need a plastic bag over them to keep the soil from drying out.
At the right time, bring the pots of bulbs into a warm room, water, and let them grow and flower.