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I want to grow some bulbs in my office. I have windows facing east, west, and north-east. The office is air conditioned, but not humid. What flowering bulbs can I plant, that will grow well under these conditions?

I'm specifically interested in rain lilies and hyacinths. Will these grow well indoors?

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3 Answers

I believe you will find "tender bulbs" are easier (less work) to grow indoors than "hardy bulbs", though both types can be grown indoors.

Therefore given the choice between Rain Lily (tender bulb) and Hyacinth (hardy bulb) I would go with the Rain Lily.

Hippeastrum is another tender bulb you may want to look at, it's a "popular" indoor flowering (bulb) plant.

Once you've selected the exact flowering (bulb) plant you want to grow indoors, read up on the plants specific requirements eg

  • Pot size and preferred growing medium.

  • Amount of light.

  • Watering.

  • Does it prefer being kept away from drafts (indoor ventilation systems).

  • After flower care, needs.


Good luck! and please report back here, letting us know what you choose and how you get on with growing it indoors.

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let us continue this discussion in chat –  lamwaiman1988 Sep 26 '11 at 3:42
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You will not be able to grow a long term plant that way, but you could probably force something. Trying different things would be a good way to to find what does best in your conditions. Hyacinths or narcissus seem like good choices to try out.

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You should not have any difficulty growing hyacinths under the conditions you describe, although, as jmusser points out, you will not be able to make permanent residents of them.When I was a child, my mother successfully "forced" bowls of hyacinths (fooled them into thinking that winter was over and it was Spring and time to bloom) every year, so that they always flowered over Christmas. After planting the bulbs in bowls of damp potting compost, she placed them in a cool, dark cupboard for about three months and, as soon as green shoots appeared, she gradually reintroduced them to the light:

Although our winters are considered mild by northern standards, it does get dreary and wet in January and February. Forcing spring bulbs indoors will provide you a cheery pot of flowers when everything else outside is bare and brown. Now is the time to begin preparation.

The easiest bulbs to force are crocuses, hyacinths, and daffodils. Tulips can be forced, but they are more finicky than the others and require a much longer chilling period.

Buy large firm bulbs at a nursery and use 6" pots. A 6" pot will hold 3 hyacinths, 6 daffodils, 6 tulips, or 12 crocuses. Put 3" of a peat-based compost at the bottom of the pot and set the bulbs on it. The bulbs should be placed close together, but they should not touch each other, nor should they touch the sides of the container. Do not force the bulbs down into the compost.

Fill the pot with more compost, pressing it firmly but not too tightly around the bulbs. When you have finished, the tips of the bulbs should be just above the surface, and, there should be about ¼" between the top of the compost and the top of the container. Water so that the growing medium is damp, but not soggy.

The bulbs need a cold, frost-free period in the dark. A temperature of 40F is ideal. The refrigerator is an ideal place to chill the bulbs. The proper chill time varies with the type of bulb that is being forced. Crocuses are chilled for six weeks, daffodils and hyacinths need 12-14 weeks, and tulips require 16 weeks. Check occasionally to make sure that the growing medium is still moist and that growth has not started.

When the shoots are one to two inches tall, it is time to move the container into a cool room indoors. 50F is ideal, but temperatures between 60 and 65 F will be sufficiently cool. Place in a shady spot for a couple of days and then move near a sunny window for a few days. The leaves will begin to develop, and in seven to ten days, flower buds will begin to form. When the buds begin to color, move the container to the chosen site for flowering. This should be a bright, sunny place that is free from drafts and away from radiators or heating ducts. Keep the growing medium moist at all times, turn the container occasionally to promote even growth, and enjoy your spring flowers in the midst of winter's gloom.

Andie Rathbone, Smith County Master Gardener Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Paperwhite Narcissus is another plant that is fairly easy to grow indoors.

There is further information on forcing hyacinths, with detailed illustrations here.

As far as Rain Lilies are concerned, I can't speak from experience, but a quick online search here suggests that they can be grown indoors, but will not flower as well as they would outdoors, due to lower light levels and lack of rain; however, if the light from your office windows is good, it is worth giving them a try.

Update

Further to your comment below: After the blooms have died down, the usual practice, in the case of hyacinths (and also daffodils, crocus and tulips), is to lift the bulbs and plant them in the garden, in the hope that they will bloom outdoors next Spring; however, some plants such as Amaryllis, if given the right care, will go on flowering every year indoors. See After Bloom Care for Indoor Bulbs, University of Missouri.

If you can't plant your bulbs outdoors after flowering, and don't want to discard them, you could leave them to dry out, then store them in a cool, dry place and, in the Autumn, start the process again, although there is a risk they may not bloom the second time round.

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Ok, if I buy the bulb, force it to flower, can the bulb maintain itself for next year? –  lamwaiman1988 Sep 25 '11 at 15:53
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