Spring has brought on more than pretty flowering bulbs: it’s also unleashed a newfound enthusiasm for gardening in my editor, Kate.
Kate has been particularly smitten by a plant she bought from on a whim to put on her porch.
It’s an Ornithogalum ‘White Princess’, a bulb in the hyacinth family that features cone-shaped sprays of highly fragrant white flowers on fleshy green spears.
Kate brings an update on the plant to work for me almost daily, she is so excited.
She’s getting immense satisfaction at seeing her plant sprout first flower spikes, and then each perfumed bud open one-by-one.
It’s always great to see someone’s love for plants bloom.
When I worked in a nursery we often sold flowering potted bulbs as gifts, an alternative to cut flowers.
We sold irises, daffodils, hyacinths, and ornithogalums, bearing in mind that most people would probably put them on a kitchen table, wait for the blooms to end, and then throw them out.
This doesn’t have to be the way, of course.
Spring bulbs, kept in the right way, can be encouraged to store enough energy to sprout again in the following year.
While flowering, potted bulbs should be kept in a well-lit, sheltered position, with a light soil and good drainage to avoid rot.
They should be watered about three times a week, enough to stop the soil from drying out.
You should also feed them with a liquid fertilizer, following the rates instructed on the packet.
Remove all flowers once they are spent so that energy goes into plant and bulb growth rather than seed production.
When flowering ends in summer, let the plant and its leaves dry out completely by ceasing water supply.
When you are sure the leaves have completely died off and dried out, you can remove the bulb from its pot, and plant it directly into the ground to (hopefully!) sprout next spring.
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