This year I decided to branch out from just planting my ‘usual’ bulbs on the balcony and plant some different indoor (in the UK climate at least!) bulbs too. On my balcony, I plant the obligatory tulips and daffodils annually, refresh my oxalis tubers and try some other bits and bobs. Lavender, peonies, and lots of seeds of herbs make an appearance when spring rolls around; mint, dill, parsley… you get the picture. My first foray into bulb planting indoors was last spring when I experimented with growing oxalis triangularis inside, after seeing it sitting pretty on instagram amongst peoples’ houseplant collections when grown as an indoor plant. After trying this out, I will say that I personally prefer the growth of them outdoors; I find them to be slower but steadier with longer lasting blooms on my balcony compared the the indoor grown pots.
This trial though made me sure that I wanted to dabble with growing some bulbs indoors as houseplants. One dark January evening, fuelled by a glass of wine or two, I found myself down a bulb-shaped rabbit hole online, trawling for interesting and unusual options to experiment with.
When my parcel arrived early in Spring, I was thrilled to receive a box of goodies that I will admit I had almost forgotten about ordering altogether, let alone the specifics of the plants that comprised my order!
Above: Indoor oxalis (single tuber) experiment and close up of oxalis tubers before planting. Corresponding oxalis blog post here
There is something very enticing about bulb growing that is hard to put into words, I think it’s to do with the paradox between the beautiful plants that (somewhat) magically appear from the less-than-pretty looking bulbs. I will say however that I actually love looking at all things under the surface when it comes to plants; bulbs and roots are a lot of fun to study (and photograph!)
After a very enjoyable few hours going through a process of simultaneously re-discovering what I had ordered, yet being denied any visible clues through the knobbly bulbs that oddly had their own personalities already (I’m looking at you, asteroid looking colocasia corms!), I made an absolute mess of my kitchen (read: potting) table by potting everything up. Unlike my outdoor bulbs, I thought it sensible to label these pots so that I could get to grips with growth habits of the variety of plants I had selected. Once potted I watered lightly and kept them in a sunless spot on a rack in my office at home.
A few weeks later, I noticed some tiny shoots appearing in some of the pots; first to sprout were my colocasia antiquorum ‘black leaf’ illustris, closely followed by my zephyrantes carinata (which I received as a surprise gift for ordering so much (oops..haha).
I moved the pots I started to see growth in to a brighter position and covered them with plastic freezer bags. I also have a small propagator (above left) I popped two of my humidity-loving caladiums in, and a glass dome which houses a small pot with a tiny colocasia jeningsii bulb. Granted, a table with pots covered in bags isn’t the most attractive of views, BUT it does help increase the humidity and warmth considerably, which in turn will encourage growth.
The above four photographs show the growth of the larger of the colocasia antiquorum ‘black leaf’ illustris plants. Initially I had some trouble with mould (which can be an issue when bulb planting) as the pot was a bit too wet and in a bit too bright a position after it had started sprouting (which exacerbates this issue). To resolve this, I removed the bulb from the pot and repotted in something slightly smaller, watering from the bottom only. In the last photograph above you can just about see the first tiny leaf forming!
Something about these pots covered with bags is very appealing to photograph! Here’s the most recent update of my two colocasia antiquorum ‘black leaf’ illustris plants.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my experiments in my indoor bulb growing this spring, I’ll be sure to write an blog update when there is some more progress. I’m eagerly anticipating some caladium updates soon, which is perhaps what I have been most excited for!
Thanks for reading,