Forcing tulips with AeroGarden

After seeing vases of forced tulips, I was curious whether tulips can be grown using the AeroGarden. Since forcing tulips uses water, why can’t it be done with hydroponics?

I thought about 3D printing a support to hold the bulb upright and connected to the basket. But that would not allow for others in the AG community to try growing tulips in their gardens. So I decided to hack existing materials readily available to everyone.

A permanent marker and a soldering iron is used to hack a AeroGarden grow basket.

Some tools and materials you will need to gather are soldering iron, permanent marker, and garden wire. Another helpful tool is a hobby filing set.

Place the basket upside on the tabletop. Using scrap cardboard to protect the surface from accidental burning may be a good idea. With the permanent marker, make four dots on the lip of the basket like the four cardinal points. I looked for 2 vertical basket support lines that were opposite each other. Then mark the dots in the middle of the basket lip. The next 2 dots are between the vertical support.

Once the soldering iron is hot, gently melt a hole where you marked the four dots. This may take a few light touches of the hot soldering tip. Once the hole is melted through, you can widen it using a hobby file, tack or screw point.

Cut about 12 inches of garden wire. (14 inches was too much and 10 was too short.) From the bottom, feed the wire through two holes opposite each other. Pull the wire tight so it tucks under the lip of the basket.

Take one end of the wire and insert it in either of the holes. Then insert the other wire into the remaining hole. The wires are meant to hug around the tip of the dormant bulb and stabilize it as it grows. At this point, you can assemble the grow sponge and bulb to test the fit. The photos do not show the sponge because I focused on figuring out the wire arrangement.

The two wire loops cross over the tulip bulb.
The tulip bulb should be seated well on the basket and stabilized with the wires.

At the time of writing this blog post, the tulip bulbs are in the refrigerator going through cold stratification. I’m keeping them in there for about a month.

Things I’ll keep in mind when I go to fully assemble my tulip garden.

  • Boil the peat sponge so it’s fully swollen.
  • Pack in some extra pieces of sponge so the roots touch the sponge.
  • Leave some slack with the wire loops because I think the bulb will expand when it gets rehydrated.
  • As the stem grows, see if it needs support. Use a fan or gently shake it to simulate wind.

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