And you can get all crafty (tazettas, part II)



The best thing about tazettas is that you can grow them without dirt; in fact, you should. The bulbs can’t sit in water; using pebbles in a clear glass container lets you make sure they’re not.

There’s something perverse and kind of cool about using deliberately non-organic media for these; lately, I’ve been toying with all kinds of colored glass. At first I stuck to plain colors, but last year I moved to metallic and two-tone, and today I found some squiggle-shaped “accent glass.” Tacky? Sure. But fun. River stones are earthier; sea shells work fine too.

Another area for experimentation is the vessel. We all know that these have tall, floppy stems, so the thing to do is use a tall vase where at least half the stem will be supported, like a bouquet. And there again, I’ve been creeping toward the extremes. The tallest vase I have is three feet, and I suspect a tall, square vase would be chic.


It should be obvious that these are excellent gift ideas; I’ve been using them at holiday time for years, and the recipients often email me images when the flowers finally bloom. Which they do, as the image above from my winter plant room shows.

Look, I know I sound like a tazetta pimp. But I do it for all those who have to endure four months or more without a garden. Someday, like Michele, I’ll have a greenhouse, but for now houseplants and bulb-forcing are my winter story, and I’m sticking to it.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I commented on your earlier post – I’ll be doing this with some of the bulbs I bought as there is no room in the ground for them. Now, I need containers, so I guess that justifies another trip to Ross for vases and rocks/marbles. Hey, this could be fun!

  2. Hi Kim,

    I’m betting those daffs will force pretty easily. But are you sure there is no room for them in the ground? Have you considered planting them really, really tightly? Or at least some?

  3. Weeeeeeeellllll, I think I might have planted my perennials a bit too tightly. I gave them a bit of room, but not much. I’ve shoehorned in 49 alliums, and I’m just not sure where I could squeeze these in without digging up something. BUT, that said, if I could squeeze a few into the bed, which ones would you plant? Oh, just realized my listing is on the other post.

  4. I bought these: Thalia, Pheasant’s Eye, New Baby, Minnow (tazetta), Geranium (oh, another tazetta!), Glen Clova, and Sun Disc.

  5. Well, I would not hesitate to put 5 of any of those together in one small hole, giving them just enough room to sit next to each other. Maybe 3 bunches of 5 Thalias each. Or Pheasant’s eye? I don’t know how many you have. They are also hardy and have been popular a long time, so they may put up with more abuse.

    Also those are not tazettas, so I think they may be the ones to keep outside.

  6. I got brave and planted the 10 Thalia, 5 Pheasant’s Eye and 5 Glen Clova I had, all the while repeating over and over to the gardening gods, “Please don’t let me dig up something I planted yesterday, please don’t let me dig up something I planted yesterday” (meaning the other bulbs). Success. I even shoehorned in 4 Camassia for good measure but chickened out on the spider lilies and the last (10) of the specie tulips.

  7. Well the only bulbs you can really hurt by digging them up are lilies–they’re so soft.

    The other ones you can just throw back in. Gotta show em who’s boss.

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