The Q&A Archives: Forcing Amaryllis, Tulip

Question: I would like to grow Amaryllis, tulips, or Narcissus in pots to use as centerpieces at my wedding in April 1998. I would probably plant twice the number of pots needed so that I will be assured of enough blooming plants. Do you have any suggestions for me? Also, I live in the U.S. Virgin Islands where the weather is always the same - bright and sunny. How do I fool the plants into thinking it's spring, or do I need to? Also, any mail order sources for bulbs would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. Sue Prytherch St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Answer: I appreciate your desire to have live flowers as centerpieces at your wedding. An acquaintance of mine did so with pots of pansies and lobelia, and it was a wonderful touch. However, I think your choice of plant material may be probematic, and with allthat goes into wedding planning, you probably want to minimize the hassles! Amaryllis are native to South America, so they are your best bet, yet growth rate, bloom time and duration can be variable, even within a variety. Daffodils and tulips can be forced, "fooled" into thinking it's spring, by being put through a period of cold to break dormancy. This means refrigeration for a period of about 10 weeks, followed by introduction to a bright light and coolish temperatures (not above 60 F for best results). Probably more than a slight challenge to acheive in the Virgin Islands! I recommend planting something reliable and predictable, which is not to say mundane. Suitable, beautiful flowers that take well to pots and would thrive in your climate are available from these two excellent sources - and they should be able to advise you on specifics: Brudy's Exotics Stokes Tropicals P.O. Box 820874 P.O.Box 9868 Houston, TX 77282-0874 New Iberia, LA 70562-9868

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