The Q&A Archives: Bulbs in the Classroom

Question: I am a teacher and I would like information on forcing bulbs in the classroom. What types would be best for this? How would I do it?

Answer: First of all, I'll suggest you get a copy of NGA's newsletter Growing Ideas, Sept. 1992. This issue deals with all sorts of ways to use bulbs in the classroom! (For a copy, call 800-538-7476, ext. 143 or 124. Cost is $2.50, which includes mailing.) It includes directions for forcing, interesting activities (including using bulbs across the curriculum), and other information as well. There are so many opportunities for teaching and learning using plants and bulbs!

There are many types of bulbs you can use. Some bulbs, especially spring-flowering bulbs like hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, require a chilling period before they will grow. One way to do this is to put them into a refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks. Paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis, for example, do not require this pre-chilling. In general, bulbs should be placed in a well-drained potting mix, placing the bulbs pointy-side up so the tips are just showing above the soil line. Then put the pots in a cool, dark place for several weeks, until you begin to see shoots forming. Then bring them into a bright spot and they'll continue to grow. These are just general guidelines; different bulbs will perform best with specific treatments.

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