I'd wanted to try something like this with S this spring, but X was a high-needs baby to say the least, so I never got around to buying bags of spring bulbs last fall. Thankfully Home Depot sells sprouted bulbs for those of us who weren't on the ball!
S has been a long-standing fan of bulbs. She's a strange child, I know (she used to pretend to be a carrot when she was 2)! When she was 2.5 years old, she told me she wanted to learn more about daffodils, and lo and behold, there actually is a book (and a good one!) on that very subject: From Bulb to Daffodil!
I'd found some awesome Deck Rail Planters last year at a local store and we grew strawberries in them. This year I wanted to try some bulbs since I love tulips and daffodils and there's really not another great spot in our yard for them. S LOVES to help me plant plants. If you have not involved a toddler in planting, I really recommend it as an activity. There's the dirt, which they obviously enjoy, but there's something about plants that most kids find enchanting.
Ah, pink rainboots and dirt - does it get much better?
S helped pack down the soil down once we'd finished. I opted for four types of bulbs: narcissus, tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth. They each look unique and S had a fun time learning the names of the two types that were new to her (narcissus and hyacinth) and identifying the different plants in each planter by their leaf shape.
I pulled one example bulb of each from the soil and we brought them inside to rinse off. Bulbs are some of my favorite "kid plants" because they are not very finicky (beans and peas are awesome as well). You can plant them high or low, crooked or straight, tear some roots off or leave some roots exposed, and they will still grow!
Because of this hardiness, I thought we'd try growing them hydroponically. This is our first go at it, and at a week out, everything is still alive, though our hyacinth's leaves are starting to yellow a bit (it's still blooming beautifully). I think the trick is to make sure that your water level isn't too high. The roots should be in the water, but the bulb should not be submerged. From what I've read about bulbs online, the yellowing we're experiencing with the hyacinth is a result of bulb rot (too much water surrounding the actual bulb). Now mind you, we haven't tried growing these bulbs from dormancy. I don't know if they would be able to grow hydroponically the entire time (though we intend to try this next spring). What I can say is that they will survive at least a week and bloom like crazy inside. :)
To make an indoor bulb garden like ours, you'll need:
A clear container to see the roots! You could also use a glass drinking cup and just do a bulb per cup if you'd rather not buy an expensive planter.
Glass beads or pebbles - the point being that you need something that has big enough gaps between for roots to travel and something that the bulbs will sit on so they are not submerged in the water. The glass beads/pebbles also protect the roots from overexposure to air.
In general, if you are taking away the soil (what plants use to get minerals) -- you'll want to add those back in with a liquid fertilizer. Bulbs store nutrients inside - moreso than seeds (seeds just have a little bit of food stored to get them started) - so they should be fine with just water.
S is THRILLED with her indoor garden. The first thing she checks on every morning is her flowers. They smell beautiful and look pretty neat in their glass container.
It's been interesting to be able to compare the indoor garden (in full bloom at this point, minus the tulip which still has a lot of growing left to do) to the outdoor garden (still completely dormant). It's amazing what a difference heat (and a little fertilizer boost!) makes to bulb growth! Inside our house, they think it's already spring, so they are blooming away. :)
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children. As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family. I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.