Floral Tips & Info
Bulbs and EasterEaster is early but the flowers will bloom right on time?
Easter is the most difficult holiday for plant growers. The bulb flowers, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, lilies, etc. burst in the spring and erase all the gloom of winter. It takes great care for the beauty to be shown at exactly the right time and a period of very warm sunny weather can push the flowers out too early or when the opposite happens and we have those cold gloomy days that are around in many years in March, the flowers miss the holiday and bloom too late. Although modern greenhouses are equipped with state of the art heating, cooling, and shading, there are still times when nothing but moving the plants will work. And with bulb plants there is always a lot of moving. I will describe the process here and you may want to try and force some tulips or daffodils for your home yourself but now you will have to wait until next year.
The process of bulbs putting forth stems, leaves and flowers really starts with winter. Without the cold dormant time nothing would happen. When in nature, the flowers from one year fade and the strength of the plant dies back into the bulb and the cold of winter provides the rest period to prepare the bulb to be ready for spring. As the soil warms, the bulb begins to send forth a shoot upward so that leaves can grow and take in sunshine. Commercially, this is done by pre-cooling the bulbs in dark refrigerators. The necessary time is on charts and each type of plant is removed from the cold with the precise number of days left for it to bloom on schedule. The bulbs are put in pots and then the pots into greenhouses and watered. It really doesn’t take more than a few days for the tops of the plants to begin to sprout. Growers have to monitor the growth carefully, for as I mentioned earlier, the plants need to be moved back into the coolers if things are moving too quickly. If you are doing this at home and you have to move a few plants around, it really isn’t much of a chore. Commercially, this may mean moving hundreds of thousands of plants and they may have to be moved more than once.
Culturally, once the plants start to grow, all that is needed is to water them as they dry out. The plants are selected to be shipped when the buds are full and for most varieties not yet showing color. The plants are sent to stores and in a few days they start to show off their flowers. When you pick out your plants, it would be best to pick ones that are just starting to bloom and don’t be concerned if they are too tight. For a holiday like Easter, or if the plant is for a special occasion, you may want to pick one that is more fully developed so that the impact when you present the gift is more spectacular. The plant size is determined by the number of bulbs in the pot and often the size of each bulb. Easter lilies that are sold in most mass markets for lower prices usually only have 3 or 4 flowers while larger plants that cost more can have 8 or more flowers on each stem. The larger tulip plants could have 10-15 bulbs in each and therefore have at least that many flowers as opposed to the low price plants that have 3-5.
Once you get the plants home, keep them in a cool spot as much as possible. If the best place for enjoying the plant is too warm, just move it at night to a window sill. Bulb plants like tulips which have all the flowers in the same pot bloom at the same time, should last for several days while lilies that have buds developing at different stages can last weeks. Remember that many varieties of lilies are poisonous to cats.
If you have any other questions or need help, please e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-659-9200.
Charles F. Kremp 3rd is owner of Kremp Florist with shops in Philadelphia and the suburbs. Kremp’s main store in Willow Grove was recently remodeled and has been ranked as one of the finest in the country.
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