Topic outline

  • 4-H Boots and Blooms

    logo for 4-H  Family Fun Online 4-H Boots & Blooms will give you a chance to garden in the winter from the coziness of your home.  We will "force" bulbs and twigs into blooming and create a plant propagation station for indoor plants.  

    There are three activities in this project.  You may space the activities out to be one per week or move along faster if you wish.  No prior experience needed, just follow the directions, practice, and share some of your results with friends and family!

    To complete the project - please do all of the items in each of the topics (check off boxes as you do them, and you will notice the discussion boxes self-check when you do the activity requested).  Each section includes a:

      • "Discussion" -  please answer the Q and then respond to one other person <you don't have to have a long reply - okay to say something like - "cool idea" or "that has happened to me"> - it is a chance to share your ideas and get to know another family or two.
      • "Lesson" - read or watch the information that is shared, and do the activity.
      • "Check-in" - the check-in is a reflection or a little knowledge check (not a graded quiz!) - you can do the knowledge checks as many times as you want.  

    When the project is finished, we'll send out a survey to complete.  Please complete this project by 2/15.

  • 1. Forcing Paperwhites

    paperwhite bulbs and bloomsWhile winter can be so fun, there are days that call for a jumpstart on spring.   Our first two activities will be practicing what in horticulture is called "forcing" blooms.   "Forcing", in this case, is defined as the art or practice of raising plants at a season earlier than the natural one. 

    We will be using paperwhite bulbs.  “Paperwhites” are a type of narcissus plant; closely related to daffodils.  You will see a resemblance as they bloom.  Their name comes from their very delicate white flowers.  They are very easy to force, which makes them very popular.  If you are interested in repeating this activity next year – look for bulbs at your favorite nursery in September or October.  They tend to sell out quickly.  The activity below will take less than an hour.   Note that it may take about 30-40 days for your bulbs to bloom indoors, depending on the temperature of your house, lighting, etc.  

    In this activity, I'm inviting your family to consider what "forcing a plant" might mean, to observe, and to anticipate together.  Oh...and have fun :) is really fun to think and grow together.  

  • 2. Forcing Forsythia

    forsythia flowers blooming indoorsIn addition to bulbs, we can force branches to bloom inside.  All of this takes patience, curiosity, and the willingness to try something that might not work (just telling you the truth).  I say that because there are a lot of variables - what shrubs you know you have (and can identify in the winter), how cold it is the day that you prune your shrubs, how warm it is in your house, how often you change the water - etc.  All that said - it is gratifying to have blooms in the house in the winter and the activity will build a relationship between you, your yard, and how you feel about winter.  

    Below are directions and a short tutorial on how to prune and force forsythia branches.  Forsythia is a common shrub found in New York State.  Forsythia blooms early in the spring - and instead of leafing out first, they blossom with bright yellow flowers.  The shrubs are a bit wild and crazy - you will see my shrubs in the tutorial.   For reference, I planted Forsythia twigs 5 years ago and now have an 8 ft tall hedgerow...allowing plenty of branches to prune for this project (reach out if you are local to Moravia and need some).


    Photo credit: The Gardening Cook 

  • 3. Houseplant Propagation Station

    There was a time not long ago when I stopped growing houseplants... I just felt bad because occasionally they just didn't do so well.  Well, it really doesn't matter if you think you have a "brown thumb" (can't grow plants) or a "green thumb" (everything grows well)...trying to propagate houseplants is really interesting...and inexpensive.  Once you become interested in propagating plants, your eyes will be on the search for others with houseplants each time you visit a friend or a family member.  Ask if they might share a clipping, or share some of your clippings with them.  This activity is another chance to observe, and share what you are learning with others.

    In this activity you will start a propagation station, and eventually re-pot some houseplants of your own.

  • 4-H Boots and Blooms Completion