I don’t know about you, but living in Ohio during the winter can be particularly dreary and affect my mood. I miss the anticipation of watching the shoots of plants appear and all of the color of the flowers in bloom. However, I found a way to help alleviate some of that dreariness. How about growing flowers from bulbs? You can use it as a science project to watch the development of the flower as well as provide color and beauty in your home. Most bulbs need a time where they are chilled in order to bloom early, but the following bulbs are the easiest to force into bloom because they don’t require a chilling period:
- Amaryllis Blooms appear six to eight weeks after planting. They are available in many interesting colors and forms: bright reds, as well as white, pink and peach.
- Paperwhites Blooms appear three to five weeks after planting. Paperwhites offer delicate beauty and an intense fragrance. Buy a couple dozen paperwhite bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place. Start some every few weeks for blooms throughout winter.
Bulbs can be grown in a pot filled with soil, or just place them in a shallow bowl and use pebbles or marbles to hold the bulbs in place. Add several inches of water and they’ll usually bloom just four weeks after “planting”. You can plant in a container similar to the photo on the left or you can be as fancy as putting your bulb in a glass container with decorative pebbles of rocks that you can purchase at a craft supply store such as Hobby Lobby. The picture shown here is an amaryllis bulb and as you can see they are quite large.
To help keep stems short and sturdy, start them out with indirect light and temperatures of about 50 degrees F. for the first two weeks, then warmer, brighter conditions after that. You can add thin bamboo stakes as they grow taller if you cannot do as previously suggested. If you’re growing your bulbs in a bowl with pebbles or marbles, the water should cover no more than the bottom quarter to third of the bulb.
Of course, this is an opportunity to incorporate learning with the beautiful project. 🙂 I have listed some ideas and subject content areas that apply to your garden. As with any project, adjust the activity to meet the needs of your student(s). My thoughts on how you can use this fun on-going activity include:
- Deciding which bulbs to plant. Are you going to plant an amaryllis or paper whites? Do you want to plant both? How many do you want and what is the cost? Here are links to help you decide: amaryllis bulbs or paperwhite bulbs (Language Arts- researching bulbs; Math- decision making, cost)
- Allowing the children decide what container and rocks would be best. (Math- sorting)
- Decorating the container. (Art)
- Planting the flower bulbs. Record the steps on a A Little Bit O’ Green Lab Report. (Language Arts- following directions, writing down steps; Science- lab report)
- Making predictions about the growth of the plant. (Science- How tall will it get? How big will the flower be? How long will it take to grow? How much do you think it will grow in a week? Math- measurement)
- Recording and graphing the growth of the bulbs and later the flowers. (Math- How much has it grown in a week? Science- Measuring the parts of a flower; bulb, roots, stem; Discussing photosynthesis, care of plants; Language Arts- vocabulary)
- Labeling and defining the parts of the flower. Here are some great, up close pictures of each part of the flower (Science- parts of the flower, pollination; Language Arts- researching, vocabulary)
- Drawing the flower and all of its parts A Little Bit O’ Green Drawing Activity (Art- drawing)
- Determining direction for optimal growth of the flower with using a compass. (Math- reading a compass; Social Studies- direction)
Have fun and let me know if you do it. I’d love to hear about your garden!