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For small spaces, or just for a change of pace, look for miniature forms of familiar bedding plants and bulbs. Nurseries are offering them in ever-increasing numbers.

Indoors, their low height makes them invaluable for holiday entertaining. You can pop small pots of them into baskets or kitchen containers for an instant centerpiece that won't interfere with eye contact or with passing food across the table. To add greenery, combine them with equally small pots of ivy or ferns. Their size also makes them easy to transport, so you can bring a blooming pot as a gift for a hostess or friend.

All plants shown here last best in a cool, bright place. If you keep your house constantly in the mid-60s or warmer, move pots to a cooler place between parties or at least at night--perhaps to an unheated room or a sheltered entry or porch. Kept continuously in a very warm house, the flowers may last for only two to four days. In a cool house with good light, all will last longer, but miniature cyclamen fare best; with optimum conditions, they can bloom indoors for several months.

Small pots dry out fast indoors, so check soil moisture almost daily.

Grow bulbs in pots in a cool (but not freezing) place until buds open. Move them indoors during bloom, keeping them as cool as possible. After flowers fade, plant them outdoors in larger containers or in the ground.

Outdoors, miniatures are choice plants for any site you see close up--flat-backed wall planters, window boxes, entry containers. Container-planting makes it easier to move plants into the limelight or out of reach of pests or battering rains.

If you have snails and slugs under control, you can also plant miniatures in the ground. Their small scale is particularly appropriate for the compact spaces often found in courtyards, entries, or raised beds around patios. Or sprinkle them along pathways and among low-growing plants in a meadow or woodland setting; they'll remind you of delicate wildflowers.

In the ground, plant miniatures with a low ground cover such as baby's tears or sweet alyssum, or spread a fine mulch around them. Otherwise, they're so low to the ground that heavy rains tend to splatter them with mud.

During summer dormancy, cyclamen and most widely sold miniature bulbs can go completely dry or, if soil is well drained, take regular watering. Whether in large pots or in the ground, most come back year after year. Primroses tend to die out in hot, dry summers. Miniature iris need cool winters or artificial chilling in the refrigerator to be reliably revived.

The plants and bulbs shown here are available in many nurseries. For a wider selection of miniature bulbs, you may want to order by mail. Two sources with large selections are Anthony J. Skittone, 1415 Eucalyptus Dr., San Francisco 94132 (catalog $1), and White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Conn. 06759 (catalog $5, credited toward $25 purchase).

Photo: Four fall-planted favorites now come in miniature sizes. You can buy primroses and cyclamen on left in bloom now; start the daffodils and iris at right from bulbs now for bloom in early spring

Photo: For patio pots: white species crocuses poke between Juliana primroses; these yellow-flowered ones have an apricot scent

Photo: For indoors: five blue Iris reticulata grow in 3 1/2-inch-wide pot. You can bring them indoors during bloom in spring; at night, move outside or to a cool but frost-free place

Photo: Plant miniature and full-size bulbs now--in pots, with tips just below the soil surface; or in the ground, about twice as deep as the bulb diameter

Photo: In the ground, clusters of 6 to 12 hoop petticoat daffodils (Narcissus bulbocodium) create little clumps of bloom--here, behind a border's edge

Photo: Watch out for snails and slugs: they munch tiny flowers even faster than they do full-size blooms
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:miniature flowers
Date:Nov 1, 1987
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