Bulbs are "prepackaged flowers" that are easy to grow. As they develop and bloom, the plants delight children with their colors and beauty. With this activity kids plant a daffodil garden of their own design outdoors and then grow a paperwhite indoors so they can learn how their daffodil bulbs will develop into blooms.
Materials For Daffodil Garden:
- 20 to 30 daffodil bulbs
- Synthetic bulb fertilizer
- Water and mulch
Materials For Paperwhites:
- large, clear plastic cups
- pea sized gravel
- marking pens
- paperwhite narcissus bulbs
First prepare a planting bed for the daffodil bulbs. Now you can tackle this task on your own before your children get involved, but I find that most kids enjoy this part of the project. Site the bed in an area that has good drainage and receives full sun. Daffodils need 4 to 6 hours of sunlight in the spring and the bulbs should be planted about 6 inches apart, so select an area and measure out the bed size accordingly. Loosen the soil 8 to 10 inches deep. If your soil is heavy with clay, improve drainage by mixing in some compost or humus.
There are several ways to design the daffodil garden. For a natural drift have your children toss the bulbs on the ground and start planting them wherever they land keeping 6 inches of space between the bulbs . They can also arrange the bulbs to form their initials or a simple shape.
With the bulbs arranged, you are ready to plant. Instruct the children to dig a hole for each bulb. The rule of thumb is to dig a hole 3 times as deep as the bulb is wide. For daffodils this usually works out to be about 6 inches. Place a spoonful of synthetic bulb food in each hole, add the bulb and backfill with soil. Water and mulch the bed and you are ready to move indoors to plant the paperwhites.
Write each child's name on a large, clear plastic cup.
Fill the cup 1/2 full with pea gravel.
Place 1 paperwhite bulb in each cup on top of the rocks with the tapered end pointing up. Add more gravel until the lower half of the bulb is covered.
Pour just enough water into the cup so that it just touches the bottom of the bulb.
Place the cups in a cool spot with indirect light.
The bulbs will quickly develop roots. Have the children check the water level to make sure the gravel does not dry out.
When the green foliage appears move the cups to an area that receives more light.
After about 3 to 4 weeks the bulbs will put forth fragrant white blooms for the whole family to enjoy and the children will be able to see in rapid motion how their daffodil garden will develop over the course of winter and early spring.