How to Force Bulbs for the holidays so that you can enjoy beautiful blooms throughout the season and the cold months ahead.
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photo source of kitchen pan pots above by: home life style
My garden is put to bed and the few plants I brought in to overwinter have found their new homes in sunny corners throughout my house. I have started the windup for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
I love decorating for the holidays but I prefer decor that is not too fussy. Something I try to do every year is to force bulbs to bloom indoors throughout the winter so that they are brightening my home with beautiful colors and fragrances. These pots of blooms also make wonderful hostess gifts.
Have you read this far and asked yourself what is this woman talking about why does she want to force bulbs and where is she forcing them too?
To “force” a bulb means to create an environment where the bulb grows when it naturally wouldn’t.
You have to chill bulbs they need chilling time, either in a fridge that contains no fruits or vegetables or in a cool place in your house that does NOT freeze, like the garage or cellar. This tricks the bulb into sprouting, think winter is your fridge and the pot is spring.
The rule of thumb on chilling time the larger the bulb, the longer the chilling time.
Forcing bulbs is simple and you can get mighty creative with what containers to use to hold them. Some like Paperwhites, Crocus and Amaryllis can be grown in watertight containers. Others like a soil mix of equal parts of soil, sphagnum moss, and perlite or vermiculite. Commercial potting soil can stay to wet and cause your bulbs to rot.
Plant bulb with the pointed end facing up and always leave the tips of your bulbs uncovered
Plant your bulbs close together but give them enough space so that they are not touching each other.
After chilling time keep your pots in a cool part of your home until you see growth. Then move your pots to a warmer location with bright indirect light.
There are several different types of bulbs that you can force.
- Paperwhites are the most popular, probably because they are one of the easiest, versatile to force and need no time to chill. Start them know in several batches so that you get blooms every few weeks.
You will see blooms 4-6 weeks after planting. Once the blossoms die, toss the bulbs; they won’t flower again.
photo source: Wall Street Journal
- Tulips are always a favorite because of their colors and fragrance.
You will see blooms: 2-3 weeks after chilling.
photo source: imgfave
- Grape hyacinth have the most lovely scent and color. They need 10-12 weeks to chill.
You will see blooms in 6-8 weeks. BONUS: keep growing and plant outside in the spring for blooms the following year.
photo source: container gardening
- Amaryllis are the largest and mot striking blooms to force and need no time to chill.
You will see blooms 6-8 weeks, sometime sooner.
photo source: house and home
- Crocus are small blooms that will need 8-15 weeks of chilling
You will see blooms 2-3 weeks after chilling
photo source: horticulteur brindas
3 comments on “How to Force Bulbs”
Love your page! I wish I had thought of forcing bulbs earlier so I would have time for chilling and bloom in time for the Holidays. I’m still going to try it even though they may not bloom by then. I just love the look of them. It certainly will brighten up the home anytime!
Thanks for you blog, really is packed full of info.
Glad to have stumbled by – I never entertained the idea of growing bulbs indoors – thanks so much for these tips!
Shashi, You really need to give it a try. Amy