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#bioPGH Blog: Bulbs
Mar 03

#bioPGH Blog: Bulbs

By Lorren Kezmoh, Outreach Coordinator, Phipps Science Education and Research

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. From the best times to plant seasonal flora and enjoy their peak blooms, to astronomical events and creatures to keep an eye and ear out for, Phipps will keep you in the know with what’s going on in our environment!

Nothing announces the arrival of springtime quite like daffodils, tulips and hyacinths beginning to sprout up from the barren landscape, so it’s of no surprise that springtime flowering bulbs tend to receive the most attention of the lot. As the weather begins to gradually warm and temperatures remain steadily between 40 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor spring blooming bulbs planted during the fall will break their winter dormancy period, which is required for the bulbs to establish roots and flower in the spring, to send up flower buds. Once this occurs, it’ll only take between 2 – 3 weeks for the bulb to bloom. But, what happens if you forgot to plant your tulips, daffodils and hyacinths in the fall or just recently purchased bulbs that you had hoped to plant and enjoy this coming spring? Well, all hope is not lost, many bulbs sold during the spring have already been "pre-chilled" and are ready to plant, and spring flowering bulbs that have not yet gone through a "chilled" period can be potted and placed right in your refrigerator to replicate the cold, dark winter months! Forcing spring bulbs to bloom by placing them in the refrigerator still does require a bit of patience, however, as the bulbs must remain in a cool, dark location for approximately 8 to 15 weeks before they’ll be ready to produce flowers. In the meantime though, you’ll be able to spot spring blooms throughout city and state parks, such as: Frick Park, Schenley Park, Raccoon Creek State Park, and Cedar Creek Park; and of course, right here at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens!

Connecting to the Outdoors Tip: Did you know that there are also summer and autumn blooming bulbs that don’t require a chilling period prior to blooming? If you’re searching for bulbs that are ready to plant and will bloom in time for summer consider planting dahlias, oriental lilies, calla lilies and tuberous begonias in late spring. While it’s still a bit early to enjoy the blossoms of bulbs that have overwintered outside, you can always drop by Phipps anytime during our show installation period to get your floral fix and catch a sneak peak of our upcoming show, Masterpieces in Bloom, which will feature botanical renderings of artwork by famous artists such as: Van Gogh, Monet, and Klimt. Come see what it takes to install one of our most popular flower shows, which will officially open on Saturday, March 12th, and chat with our on-site horticulturalists about plant life here at Phipps as well as at your own home. Did you also know that bulbs don’t have to be planted directly into the ground outside for them to flower? Flowering bulbs can be planted either alone or in clusters in large planters, pots or other containers. If you have little ones, consider crafting a bulb vase for their favorite flowering bulb out of recycled baby food, condiment or candle jars. This simple craft allows you to bring your favorite bulbs inside to enjoy, doesn’t require any soil and is a perfect planting activity to show little ones just how plants grow!

Continue the Conversation: Share your nature discoveries with our community by posting to Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #bioPGH, and R.S.V.P. to attend our next Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting.

Additional Resources:
Spring Flower Show: Masterpieces in Bloom
Bulbs - Better Homes and Gardens
Spring Flower Bulbs - American Meadows
Forcing Spring Bulbs - Better Homes and Gardens
Baby Food Jar Vase - Create Oh La La

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman