Tasha Tuesday: Planting Bulbs for Winter Pleasure

good morning, friends! I thought we were all need of a bit of a Tasha Tuesday!

I hope you are doing well, and I hope that even though we’re still struggling with the pandemic and how it affects our life and work, you are looking forward to a cozy, pleasant winter. Here in Oklahoma, our trees are losing their leaves quickly, and autumn’s glory is turning into that subtle, bare beauty of November.

And even though in winter we might be thinking of Christmas and evergreens, there are also flowers to consider, especially spring bulbs! With Vermont’s short growing season, Tasha Tudor was famous for her love of greenhouse flowers, and also ‘forcing’ bulbs to bloom indoors in the dead of winter. These are all things that we can also do, to add a little blooming cheer to dark winter days.

Tasha in her bedroom at Corgi Cottage with a china bowl filled with tulips. Photo by Richard Brown, appearing in “The Private World of Tasha Tudor” by Richard Brown.

If you are wanting to have blooming bulbs in the winter, there are two different ways to do it, depending on the plant. The easiest bulbs to do this with are Amaryllis (shown below) and Paperwhites (Narcissus). With these type of bulbs, all you need to do is plant them in a pot and give them a bit of water and sunlight and they will begin to grow immediately. If you plant them now, you’ll have blooms by Christmas (I just planted mine over the weekend!) but you can pot them and plant them at any point during the winter. Just make sure that they are not near drafts or right under a heating vent.

They are simple and easy to grow and will give you such satisfaction! I like putting them in vintage brass or silver pots. You also don’t need to worry about watering them much, so don’t be nervous about pots without drainage. In fact, they can tolerate pretty dry soil, and some bulbs have been known to start growing with no soil at all, while still in the box! If you want to be safe, however, put a bit of gravel at the bottom of your pot before you add your potting soil. A gravel base will pull the water out of the soil and prevent your plants from rotting at the root or getting water-logged (this trick works for planting in any pot without drainage holes.)

A pot of red Amaryllis. These beautiful bulbs come in shades of red, white, pink and varigations of these shades. After they’ve bloomed, you can plant them in the yard and in warmer growing zones they will continue to bloom through the years, mostly in July!

Other bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths need to be ‘forced’ in order to bloom potted in the winter– which just means you need to trick them into thinking that winter has already come and gone! This means storing your bulbs in the refrigerator (NOT THE FREEZER!) for 6-8 weeks. I’ve got some blue hyacinths that I popped in the fridge in early October, and will plant them up next month.

After these bulbs have had their ‘winter’ time, courtesy of the fridge, you can pot them up just as you would the amaryllis or the paperwhites, and as they wake up they will begin to grow and bloom. As with the other bulbs, you’ll want to make sure they’re away from drafts and too much exposure to heat vents. But with soil, sun and water, they will give you gorgeous blooms, and help remind you of the hope of spring!

Daffodils displayed in Tasha Tudor’s home. Photo by Richard Brown in “The Private World of Tasha Tudor.”

I hope that this has inspired you a bit, and also it is fun to look through the books about Tasha to see how she uses and displays forced bulbs. Tasha was a big fan of enjoying flowers all year long, and was an avid fan of green houses. She loved using greenhouse flowers and forced bulbs to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day as well, so even if you dont get your bulbs planted until Christmas has passed, it’s not too late!

I hope you are well and I hope you have a cozy and snug late-autumn-turning-into-winter. At this time of the year, the garden begins to sleep, but it’s also time to get spring bulbs planted outside. A favorite gardening quote of mine is from Audrey Hepburn– “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” May your tomorrow be full of love, light, blossoms and blooming.

Take Joy!~

One thought on “Tasha Tuesday: Planting Bulbs for Winter Pleasure

  1. Just finished planting my bulbs outdoors this week, and planted my first amaryllis for this winter yesterday. Thanks for the reminder; I need to put the hyacinths in the refrigerator! Love your Tasha posts.


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