Forcing bulbs in vintage bowls and other containers

 

A collection of bulbs I'm coaxing to bloom indoors.
A collection of bulbs I’m coaxing to bloom indoors.

For weeks, I’ve been mad about forcing, that process by which we coax bulbs to bloom indoors. Although I’ve done this for several seasons, I never really considered the containers.

A McCoy forcing bowl full of double 'Cheerfulness' narcissus. Wouldn't you like a bowl of cheer?
A McCoy forcing bowl full of double ‘Cheerfulness’ narcissus. Wouldn’t you like a bowl of cheer?

At least until I researched and discovered vintage bulb bowls. It was then I realized I’d seen these same bowls at one of Guthrie’s antique stores. There are many lovely antique stores in my little hometown, but I’m especially fond of two, Magnolia and Wisteria, owned by the same man, Art Aguirre. He has such a good eye, and even the names of his stores evoke romance.

Vintage chickens I bought from Wisteria a couple of years ago.
Vintage chickens I bought from Wisteria a couple of years ago.

I began buying old, ceramic chickens from Wisteria a couple of years ago. Art is a big collector of chickens as now am I, apparently. His grandmother gave him his first ceramic chicken when he was a boy. Parents and grandparents mean so much to their children, and can guide them into a love of collecting and gardening. I know my grandmother did. Vintage ceramic chickens are the easiest ever to care for. Nothing ever chases them around the coop or tries to eat them.

Now, I’ve asked him to keep a lookout for hyacinth vases and forcing bowls. In hyacinth vases, I’m fond of cobalt blue or amethyst glass. I have some of each along with the bright, Christmasy red and clear ones in my fridge below.

Most bulbs, other than paperwhites and amaryllis, need a chilling period. Mine are hanging out in the garage fridge.
Most bulbs, other than paperwhites and amaryllis, need a chilling period. Mine are hanging out in the garage fridge.

While we may be a bit late in the season for forcing, if you’ve stored your bulbs in the garage since you received them, they’ve been chilled at least partway. Anything you didn’t get into the ground, try putting it in a container with well drained soil and give it a try. You can also use rocks or pebbles for many bulbs too, and clear glass nicely shows off their growth. Since our winter hasn’t been very cold until the last couple of days, you may want to store these planted bulbs in an extra refrigerator–you know, the one you keep in the garage for beer. Just don’t store the containers near fruit that gives off ethylene gas. It will mess with your bulbs.

'La Paz' means peace. I wish peace for all of you this season.
‘La Paz’ means peace. I wish peace for all of you this season.

Or, head to your local garden center and get an amaryllis.  You can also quickly force paperwhites. Neither bulb requires chilling, and I wrote about less smelly paperwhites in my last post.

I'm trying to force tommies in this vintage, green forcing bowl from Shawnee pottery.
I’m trying to force tommies in this vintage, green forcing bowl from Shawnee pottery.

If you’re out shopping, or hit ebay, try finding some forcing bowls and vases. You can force in anything, but these beauties of a bygone decade make forcing a high art I think.