Why not enjoy your favorite spring bulbs all winter long?
With a little extra attention, you can grow many bulbs indoors.
While paperwhites and amaryllis are ready to plant and grow,
all other bulbs must be cooled for a time to fulfill their
winter dormancy requirements before they will flower. This
cooling process is often called “forcing” and
is intended to mimic the action of nature outdoors.
Choose a pot shallow and wide enough to hold several bulbs.
Place a layer of stones or other coarse material in the bottom
of the pot, set the bulbs in root side down, then fill the
container with fine stones, sand, light potting mix or other
material until the bulbs are about two-thirds covered. The
bulbs already contain all the nutrients needed to bloom once,
and too rich a soil may cause them to rot. Water up to the
base of the bulbs. Or use a hyacinth glass: Fill with water
to the base of the bulb, and do not let it get dry.
After watering, cover the pot with plastic, punch a few holes
for circulation, and place in the fridge (this works well
because the temperature is consistent, just be sure to keep
the bulbs away from fruit). Or, place them in a garage, unheated
basement, root cellar, outdoors covered with 6-8" of
leaves and earth, or other dark place at 35-40°F. The
bulbs will not be hurt by light frost but will be harmed by
heat or a hard freeze.
weeks of: cooling
|Anemone, Crocus, Chionodoxa, Galanthus, Leucojum, Scilla
|Iris reticulata, Muscari, short Narcissus
|Hyacinthus. tall Narcissus, Tulipa
The bulbs are ready when
you can see roots at the bottom of the pot, and leaf tips
are beginning to emerge. Bring the bulbs into a cool area
(50-65°F) with plenty of indirect light to encourage leaf
growth. Too much heat at this point will cause premature flowering;
do not place near radiators or wood stoves. Keep the soil
moist, but do not overwater.
When 3-5" of leaf growth
has appeared, bring the pots into direct light to encourage
flowering. Once blooms have appeared, remove pots from direct
sun to keep blooms from fading quickly.
Plant forced bulbs out in
the garden in spring, or let them go dormant in their pots
and plant them in fall. They will not force well a second
time. The bulbs may not blossom until the 2nd spring after
they were planted outdoors.