Science Project:

Forcing Plant Bulbs

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Materials:

  • Students need a variety of bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, lilies, hyacinths, gladiolus, amaryllis and paper whites, with 2-4 of each type of bulb.
  • Potting soil
  • At least six individual pots big enough for the bulbs (big yogurt containers with holes punched in the bottom are acceptable). Six pots will accommodate an experimental involving three different types of bulb.
  • Access to a freezer
  • Materials are seasonally available in nurseries and garden shops. Some families may already have a supply of bulbs in the ground.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Put half of each type of bulb in the freezer. Leave the other half of each type at room temperature. Don’t get these confused! Leave the bulbs in the freezer for two weeks.
  2. Set out two pots for each type of bulb. Prepare the planting containers by filling them with potting soil. Label the pots as to the type of bulb and whether it is for the “wintered-over” bulbs or a control (for the un-refrigerated bulbs).
  3. After you have refrigerated your bulbs for two weeks, remove them from the fridge and plant them with the pointy end down. You can plant several of the crocus bulbs in a single container, but make sure there is adequate soil. Cover the bulb with soil and lightly water.
  4. Create a chart that you will use for measuring the plant growth every day.
  5. Look at your pots every day. Once new shoots appear, measure them every day and chart your data. Which plants grew the most? Which grew the least? Did “wintering over” make a difference for all the plants?

References:

Books

Robbins, Ken. A Flower Grows. Dial Press (1990)

Wilkins, M. Plantwatching. Facts on File (1988)

Websites

Gardener’s Supply Company: Growing Bulbs Indoors

http://www.gardeners.com/Growing-Bulbs-Indoors/5158,default,pg.html

How Stuff Works: Planting Bulbs

http://home.howstuffworks.com/planting-bulbs.htm

Wilkins, M. (1988). Plantwatching. New York: Facts on File

Author: Cy Ashley Webb
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