Indoor Bulbs

Indoors, plants can be grown in pots filled with ordinary potting compost, in bowls or other undrained containers filled with a specially prepared bulb fibre, which is usually a fibrous or sphagnum peat with crushed shell and small pieces of charcoal, to prevent the fibre from becoming sour as a result of water collecting in the undrained bowl. The fibre has little feeding value, though the bulbs can be fed very carefully with a liquid feed. If grossly overwatered the roots in a bowl will drown for lack of air. If you think a bowl has been overwatered tilt it very carefully, holding the fibre in with one spreadeagled hand and drain off such water as appears.Indoor Bulbs

Bulbs usually require sharp drainage and this can be assured by adding extra grit to a John Innes potting compost. These come in three grades of fertilizer. JIP I has one unit of base fertilizer, JIP 2 is richer, with double the amount and JIP 3 has three units and is for very rich feeding, used only for very rapidly growing plants. Indoors, it is often more convenient to use a peat-based compost, which is cleaner and lighter.

Plants for the house should be started into growth in a cool dark place such as a cold cupboard or a plunge bed in the garden. This is merely a flat area on which the pots can be stood and covered completely with about 2 in. of moist peat, sand or washed ashes. These will fill in the spaces around the pots as well and keep the temperature very even.

Boards or bricks can be placed round the outside or the bed can be made in a cold frame. Do not put bowls in a plunge bed out of doors or they may be flooded by rain. It may take as long as eight or ten weeks in a plunge bed before the pots are ready to bring into a warm place. By this time the bulbs or corms will have made a good root system which can take up enough water and food for the emerging shoot. If put into the warm straight away the shoot will often grow faster than the roots can feed it and the plant will collapse. Specially prepared hyacinths can generally be brought into the warmth after six weeks in the cool. The narcissi ‘Paper White’ and ‘Soleil D’Or’ do not seem to be any the worse for being brought straight into the warm if the bulbs have been properly ripened.

The planting depths for outside should not be followed inside. Large bulbs are usually planted with little or no compost over the last in. If the neck of the bulb is above the surface take care not to water into it. Plant the bulbs close, but not actually touching, and choose a bowl deep enough to contain all the roots which will otherwise come out at the surface, or through the drainage holes of too small a pot. Pack the compost down round the bulbs which will shrink as the food is used up and may need top-dressing later on. Leave a space at the top to take the water.

A very fine display of daffodils can be obtained by planting a double layer in a large, deep pot. Plant the lower layer about half way up the pot and cover all but the tips of the noses with compost, then stagger the top layer above them so that all the noses have a straight run to the surface. Cover the top bulbs as usual.

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