Junk for Christmas
I think that a lot of us are probably uncomfortable with the idea of giving people junk for Christmas (or Christmakah or Festivus or whatever you celebrate). So here’s a simple crafty and relatively inexpensive way to make some junky gifts this year that everyone will love and you will be proud to give.
I call these bulb baskets, although they’re really ceramic pots, not baskets. The ingredients include 1. ceramic pots; 2. flower bulbs; 3. pebbles, marbles, and/or beads
Step 1: Junk It Up
Go to your local junk store, Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc, and peruse the kitchenware aisle. You’re looking for ceramic (or glass) bowls, cups and pots that are shallow and wide. If you have lots of people to gift and not too much money to spend on flower bulbs, you can also just get teacups, as a typical teacup can fit a single bulb rather comfortably. You can generally get used bowls, cups, etc for $1-$5 apiece at thrift and junk stores, and if you are comfortable haggling (as am I), you might be able to work out a deal.
These are the pots that I found:
Step 2: Find Your Marbles
Flower bulbs grow in soil, but they’ll also happily sprout in some loose pebbles or marbles as long as they’ve got sufficient water. I found a few bags of marbles and glass globs at a local craft store, but you may also be able to find them cheap at a toy store or dollar store. If you don’t have a driveway full of gravel, you can buy gravel or pebbles at pet stores and craft stores. Shells, sea glass and other little do-dads will also work – look around your house and see what you’ve already got that you can toss into the mix. I found a few strands of cheap plastic pearls that I didn’t need, so I threw some of them in there, too.
Basically, you want to make a 1.5 – 3 inch bed of pebbles (or marbles, etc) in the bottom of each pot, and then you’re ready for your bulbs…
Step 3: Bulb Time
To be honest, I don’t know too much about flower bulbs. As I understand it, many early spring flowers (like tulips) grow from bulbs which are planted in the fall, but you can force them to grow indoors in the winter time (or anytime, I guess), if you put them in some pebbles and water. The bulbs that I know work well with this are Narcissus, which can look like bigger daffodils, or like little white star-shaped blooms (called Paperwhites). I bought some of these, as well as some Hyacinths, which are really fragrant and kind of a cone-shaped purple flower with lots of small blooms. I also got a few Amarylis bulbs, which produce a nice tall stalk with a pink or white flower that looks something like a lily. You can get lots of different bulbs at your local garden store, or online, and for those of you who have never done this before, I recommend starting out with the paperwhites (which are sure to grow easily and beautifully).
This is what teh bulbs themselves look like:
When you’ve got all of your ingredients together, take your bulbs and nestle them in the pebbles, marbles, etc so that the fat end is securely buried and the pointy (often green or sprouting) end is pointing up. Then pour water in the pots so that there’s enough to reach the bottom of the bulbs but try to keep the water level well below the top of the pebbles. Put the whole thing in a window so it gets some daylight, and you’re good to go.
In a few weeks, your bulbs should be sprouting tall green stalks, and within a month you should get flowers. I recommend giving these to your friends and family when they’re still green so they can enjoy watching the flowers open (which means if you want to give these for christmas you should probably put these together NOW).
I recommend trying this out as an experiment this year and keeping hte plants for yourself the first time around. Then next year, after you’re more comfortable with the process, you can make some for your friends and family. But regardless of who ends up with them, remember that you should save your pots and cups and marbles and pebbles so you can use them again next year (and encourage your giftees to do the same), or at least try to bring them back to the junk shop or thrift store for others to use. The bulbs, likewise, can be re-planted after they die (it might take them several months to come back but they usually eventually do).
I’ll take some pictures of my Bulb Baskets when they’ve grown up so you can see what a pretty treat they can be. Until then, I hope this inspires you to do a little experimenting of your own…