Advice please!


My sister’s lovely stepdaughter is getting married on 28th March and she (the sister) kindly volunteered me to provide flowers for the wedding.

We had a chat and agreed that spring bulbs in terracotta pots would be fun and go with the laid back vibe she’s looking for.  I did a bit of research and came up with two different bulbs, Narcissus Elka and Muscari Latifolium, both of which are supposed to be in flower at the end of March.  All was agreed and I got buying and planting.

Initially I left the pots in the greenhouse, just until they had sprouted and were hopefully beyond any marauders (I’m still smarting about those crocuses).  Then I moved them out into the cold frame.  The cold frame is never actually closed, so all it did was corral them and also provide a bit of protection.

Fast forward a few months and I have concerns.  The Narcissus are doing too well.  Although the stems are only about 4″ tall I can definitely see flower buds (see above and below).


Now whilst I don’t know how long they’ll take to flower from this point, I feel it won’t be four weeks, and so I have now put them in the fridge:


Whether the complete lack of light will make them etiolated, yellow and sickly looking, I don’t know.  Perhaps I could let them have weekends outside?

Conversely the Muscari seem very behind:



so I’ve now moved them back into the greenhouse.

The question for you, dear readers, is am I doing the right thing?  Is there somewhere else I could put the narcissi to delay them and, from the look of the Muscari, should I be moving them somewhere even warmer, like the south facing conservatory?

I look forward to any suggestions at all, including giving up now, and making a diary note to head to New Covent Garden on Friday 27th!

Thank you.




13 thoughts on “Advice please!

  1. mattb325

    Having lived in Sydney, Australia for many years I was able to force bulbs (the only way to get spring bulbs was to refrigerate them for a number of weeks prior to planting), but I’ve never been able to force blooms to an exact date. The narcissus will be killed if left in the fridge due to complete lack of light, so I would take them out. Flowering of any bulb is also dependent on light & temperature levels, so it may be better to move some of the bulbs to a south facing wall if you want to delay the process. You won’t be able to stop the flowers that have already formed from opening.
    One other trick might be to move the Muscari into a black plastic pot (at this time of year in the UK, the soil can be 10C warmer in a black plastic pot in direct sun than in a terracotta pot) that is in direct sun in the day and sheltered in a warm indoor spot overnight. This may prompt them to grow more quickly. Hopefully this will save a trip to the flower markets, but even adding a few cut stems into the soil of the pots the day before will boost the display….Good luck 🙂

      1. jenhumm116 Post author

        Hi Matt, thanks for your advice. And you’re right, it was always a long shot to think I’d get them flowering on a particular day, but I like your idea of adding some cut flowers into the pos – cunning!

  2. AnnetteM

    What a lovely idea. I am sure if you keep your bulbs somewhere cool that the flowers will last. Alternatively if you send them up to Aberdeen that will slow them down!

  3. Christina

    My Muscari have been in flower since November so I would definitely put them somewhere warm. As Matt says get the narcissus out of the fridge, they won’t survive
    The dark unless you can give them some light on there. Paper whites are probably the only bulb that you could depend on for flowering time. Make friends with a florist!

  4. Cathy

    I am quite relieved that Younger Daughter is talking of silk flowers for her wedding in April next year!! Certainly sounds as if your narcissi are on a roll – and mild days and sunshine will be what they are hoping for so you obviously need the opposite, chilly days and shade! Do let us know how you get on 🙂

    1. jenhumm116 Post author

      Hi Cathy, yes, doubtless I’ll bring everyone along for the ride, however bumpy!
      Funnily enough the one person I didn’t really want to see the post was my sister. She’s really not a gardener but swears she reads this, and darn it, she does, as she was straight on the phone!

  5. Helen Johnstone

    I know Avon Bulbs use refrigeration to hold back bulbs you could email them for advice. I would also be buying up the pots of bulbs that are currently available in garden centres and florists at the moment. If you get the ones they are just emerging you should be OK, you could do the same in a few weeks and then you would be hedging your bets. At the end of the day you will end up with lots of narcissus to plant out.

  6. jenhumm116 Post author

    Hi Helen, thanks again for another really helpful bit of advice. As you say, the worst that can happen is that I end up with plenty of Narcissus!
    And yes, I’ll try Avon, I need to speak to them about my Galanthus Grumpy desires anyway!


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