Sunday, February 24, 2013

Growing Winter Flowers (Keep-it-Simple Science)

Simple.  Simple.  Simple.  

This is the second year that we've grown amaryllis and paperwhites during the winter.  Last year it was more a part of our Christmas celebrating and decorating, but this year I sort of forgot we had the bulbs until after the New Year.  So, with the holidays over and bulbs still waiting to be planted, it naturally meant that it would be a part of school, (I'm very liberal with the term "school" and pretty much slap that label on whatever fun activities we do around here.)  

If you've never grown these winter flowers in your home plan on it for it next year!  The $5 kits sold in stores in the months before Christmas are totally sufficient. (I use my own nice pots though, instead of the light-weight easy-to-tip-over brown plastic pots that they give you.)  The best part of these plants, especially for little kids, is that they grow so quickly, you can literally see change from morning to night.  Kids that might otherwise lose patience with another "growing" project will see speedy results with this one.  And it's fun to get some indoor gardening practice even while the garden outside alternates between frozen and muddy.  

Last year I remember we got two or three giant amaryllis blooms.  This year, we waited a little too long to plant the amaryllis so I don't think we'll get any blooms, but our paperwhites have delivered as expected!  We've kept a ruler next to the plants and have used it frequently.  The kids have often measurd the paperwhites in the morning, watered them, then measured again in the afternoon - one day there was an inch of growth during the day!  And of course, there's the unbridled excitement that runs through the house on the morning when we wake up and spot the first peek of a white petal poking through!  I'm thinking that next year I might have the kids record the measurements and watering schedules in their science binders and have them include photos that they take or sketches that they do of the flowers.  

Some ideas to make it more science-y: guess how many days it will be from planting till the first bloom; some bulbs already have little shoots - will the furthest along at planting time be the first to bloom?; does the "pod" of each paperwhite produce the same number of blooms?  all at one time?  do some die before the others can bloom?;  what happens to the plants if you rotate the pot every couple of days?; grow a plant near a window and one in a dim corner and compare the progress.  Kids eat this stuff up :)  Or at least mine do...  And for that, I am grateful.  

It's so simple.  And it's science.  And it makes your home look flowery-lovely in the winter. (The only down side is - however, the benefits are such that I'm trying to ignore it - paperwhite blossoms really stink!)  

1 comment:

  1. Why have I never done this?? I'm all for science that looks pretty! And they're WHITE :) Now the challenge will be remembering for next year...


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