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Forced Bulbs Fill Home With Fragrance

Forcing bulbs at home is easy, and it costs less than buying forced paperwhites or hyacinths from the store. If you want fragrant blooms for the holidays, get started soon.

"Forcing" a bulb means inducing it to flower at the wrong time of year. Bulbs are normally dormant through the cold winter months and flower in early spring when the soil warms up. Watering bulbs in a warm environment tricks them into thinking it's time to flower.

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Decorative vases or containers, preferably at least five inches high.

• Potting soil. Pebbles, rocks and glass “stones” work, too. Look for them at florists and craft stores.

• Flower bulbs. Nurseries and supermarkets have them in stock now, or shop online.

Fill the container with soil or pebbles to an inch of the top. Place the bulbs on top, two inches apart, pointed end up. Nestle them in so they stay put. If using soil, water thoroughly. If using pebbles, add water to the base of the bulb.

After a few days, roots start growing from the bottom of the bulb. Green shoots will appear several days later. Depending on the temperature in your home, paperwhites will flower in three to five weeks and hyacinths in two to three. Amaryllis take longer – from five to 10 weeks.

Check the water level regularly and add more water as needed. To prolong the flowering period, plant new containers once a week.

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