That’s what it keeps looking like at least. Those deep snowbanks keep dwindling and the sun keeps peeking out to remind us that February doesn’t have to be all that bad. Despite the early demise of the canal skate season (you left us too soon!) I’ll happily take a little unseasonable warmth. So show me the spring!

The potted spring bulbs at Flowers Talk Tivoli are a perennial favourite. Bright, sunny daffodils, graceful tulips, adorable muscari (grape hyacinth) arrive in droves to perk up those post-holiday living rooms and tables. Their charm is in part due to their ephemeral nature as they don’t last as long as other potted flowering plants, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them for much longer. You can keep them for future springs!

Forced bulbs are so called because they typically require a cooling period to trigger proper growth patterns. As you know, these beauties are popular around these parts as some of the first bloomers of the spring when everyone’s garden is otherwise mud and brownish grass. When planted in the ground, they rely on the winter temps and spring thaw to tell them when to wake up. Without this cycle they don’t really know what to do with themselves, so our suppliers grow them in conditions that mimic this fluctuation in temperature to trigger early blooming.

Once the blooms have faded, it’s best to keep the plants in a warm, bright location and to keep watering as usual. After a few weeks the leaves will brown and fade. Don’t cut them off before they dry up on their own! The photosynthesis the leaves do at this time are crucial to future blooming; it’s how the bulbs build up energy stores for next years hibernation. Once the leaves are brown and papery, you can trim them. Let the soil dry out and shake out any bulbs you wish to keep. Discard any rotted bulbs and excess paper layers. Store in a paper bag in a cool, dry place. If you have a garden you can plant them come fall. If not, you can try forcing them again yourself.

Most spring bulbs require about 14 weeks of approx. 4 degrees celsius to trigger blooming. Sometime in November or December, take your bulb bag and put it in the crisper of your fridge. Make sure they don’t encounter excess moisture from neighbouring fruit. Wait three and a half months before planting in regular potting soil. Make sure the pot you use has about 2″ beneath the bulbs for root growth, otherwise you can group them quite close together and have the tips level with the top of the pot. Place the pot on top of the fridge or somewhere just slightly warmer than room temp for a week or two and begin to water sparingly. Once leaves appear move to a sunny location and water regularly.

Getting forced bulbs to rebloom can be hit or miss. The first year after purchase you may not get blooms or they may be kind of small, but often you can get a little colour for not much work, and it’s fun to try!

Come by Flowers Talk Tivoli and see what spring bulbs we have for you!


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