When it comes to planning your wedding, particularly if you’re planning to get married in spring, be sure to take the advantages of spring-flowering bulbs into account. These striking plants, with their array of colors and strong foliage, can fill all your floral requirements, from bouquets and table decorations right through to thoughtful wedding favors. You can even get a lot of fun in growing them yourself and seeing the plants develop along with your wedding plans.

The Bride’s bouquet
If you looking for meaning in your choice of flowers for your bouquet, you might find hints of new beginnings, commitment, a touch of playfulness, and a good dose of femininity in a bouquet made up of a single hyacinth surrounded by tulips, daffodils and paperwhite narcissi. If you’re not looking for a message, you’ll still find an extremely beautiful, and original bouquet.

All of these bulbs are available in a wide variety of colors to suit almost any taste. If you think daffodils are always yellow, think again. Even a single daffodil flower can include three colors, and like the other bulbs, the spectrum can cover white, pink, yellows, orange and even purple.

Table centerpiece
Are you going for a single large centerpiece or several less-intrusive small pieces? Hyacinth, especially in groups, can provide a bold statement, while daffodils or narcissus provide a softer look. Tulips provide great versatility in terms of design because of the simplicity of their shape and the intensity of their colors. Several individual tulips on a long table, or two or three larger bunches for dramatic impact – the choice is yours.

Wedding favors
Finding the perfect wedding favor is picking a token that will give your guests something special to remind them of your wedding, but not end up gathering dust in some dark corner. A living gift which will provide moments of joy and beauty every year, would be the ideal solution. How about choosing a bulb? If your wedding is in the fall, give the bulb with a suitable pot, ready to plant when your guests get home. Every spring from then on, the beauty that bulb produces will be a reminder of your wedding.

If your wedding is in early spring, you could give potted bulbs on the point of blooming. If it’s a little later, you could let your flowering bulbs serve as arrangements, place markers and wedding favors all in one – your guests could really take a part of your wedding home with them. Hyacinths would be an excellent choice.

When to plant the bulbs
If you’re planning a spring wedding, fall is the time to start planting the bulbs to produce the flowers for the bouquets, floral arrangements and table centrepieces. Most will be ready to flower in early to late spring, and if you’re a bit worried they won’t be at their full glory in time, you’ve got a good chance of giving nature a little nudge if you need to.

Forcing bulbs to bloom early
Unless the bulbs have already been prepared for forcing, you will need to do the preparation yourself. Keep them in your refrigerator to prechill them then start the indoor forcing process in water or soil.

Chilling and blooming times: As a rough guideline (it’s always good to check with your nurseryman): Narcissus don’t need chilling at all (but it could help) and a cool place at night should be enough. These bulbs should flower within five to seven weeks of being planted. Hyacinths need to be pre- chilled for about 3 months and flowering should happen within two or three weeks of planting. With daffodils, allow for 4 months’ chilling and expect blooms about 3 weeks after planting. Tulips need the longest chilling period – four to five months for blooming three weeks later. They are also the most difficult to force.

Water forcing: You can use a specially designed forcing vase with a small section at the top which separates the bulb with a narrow neck from the base where the roots grow. Jam jars or other glass containers filled with pebbles are another option. If using pebbles, bury the bulbs halfway down, with just the points sticking and fill the container with water till it reaches about halfway up the bulbs. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the water level.

Soil forcing: Plant the bulbs in pots filled with potting mix so that about a third of pointed side sticks out. Leave enough space between the soil and the pot’s rim to allow the soil to expand as the bulbs shoot or you might end up with soil everywhere! Keep the soil moist but don’t overwater. Keep the bulbs in a cool place till they start to leaf, then move them to an area where they get bright, indirect light.