"At this time of year, potted tulips,
hyacinths, daffodils and other spring flowers are being sold at
affordable prices," said James Schuster. "You should choose plants
that are in bud, but not yet open, for maximum enjoyment as you
watch the plants finish maturing and the blooms opening into their
It is also a good idea
to protect the plants for the trip from the store to your home.
"Double-bag, if possible, the plants
if temperatures are below freezing," he said. "Have a warm car and
do not make any stops between the store and home. These plants like
it cool -- they do not like it freezing."
Once home, you should place the
potted flowers in a bright location but avoid direct sunlight.
"Sunlight reflecting on the pots and
plants warms them up to temperatures often above the air
temperature," he explained. "The added warmth tends to speed up the
life cycle of the plants, thus shortening their bloom time.
"In addition, try to maintain the
air temperature at 72 degrees F or below. A cool temperature
stretches the life of the plant and its blooming time."
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Schuster said it is also important
to avoid over- or under-watering. Over-watering causes the roots to
rot off, thus shortening the blooming time as well as the life of
the plant. Under-watering puts the plant under drought stress and
also shortens the blooming time.
"Keep the soil moist without being
set," he recommended. "There is no need to feed these potted bulbs.
All the nutrients are already in the bulb, and the plants do not
need supplement feeding."
For maximum effect, Schuster said,
several pots should be grouped together.
"Use the colors of the flowers to
complement or even to contrast with each other," he said. "This
makes a statement that is entirely yours. Either way can be fun.
Potted flowering bulbs can help lift some of the drab of winter and
bring spring a little early to your home."
[University of Illinois news