Forcing Bulbs Inside

Forcing Bulbs

Forcing bulbs is one of the more enjoyable indoor gardening projects. In simple summary, you are convincing a spring bulb that it has slept through the winter months and encouraging it to awaken into full spring bloom, even though the snow is piling up outside your window. Your reward is a colorful bloom and scent during otherwise grey and drab days. What better way to beat the winter doldrums!?!

forcing bulbs in pots on a window sill
Gemma Evans

Forcing bulbs is not too difficult. It just takes time, patience and a little advance planning. Sure, you can buy potted bulbs already forced and ready to grow. But why do that? You are the the gardener. Why let someone else get all the fun!?!

Step by Easy Step:

Select the bulbs you are going to force. Use you artistic skills to mix and match the right blooms with the right pot.

Use a good potting soil that drains well.

Tip: Make up several pots for a continuous bloom. After making the pots, water thoroughly until water emerges from the holes at the bottom of the pots. Let excess water drain out.

Most bulbs require a “chilling period”. This is a time when the bulb is dormant in a cool environment, simulating it’s natural underground winter home in cold soil. Most bulbs need this chilling period to force them to bloom. A couple exceptions to the rule are paperwhites and Amaryllis which do not require a period of chilling.

Chill your bulbs by potting them up and placing the pots in a cool location. The ideal temperature for chilling is 40 degrees, keeping them as close to this temperature as possible. Do not let the bulbs freeze.

Chill your pots for 12 to 15 weeks. This is the minimum period, but they can be chilled for more. Different bulbs will require varying periods for chilling.

Note: You can chill bulbs before potting.

Check on the pots from time to time. Make sure that the soil has not dried out. It should be slightly moist, but not wet. During this period, your dormant bulbs are not quite dormant. They are quietly building their root system so they are ready to explode out of the ground when you bring them indoors.

Important Tip: While you can chill bulbs in a refrigerator, they interact with many fruits in your refrigerator and will fail to bloom.

After the minimum chilling period has been reached, bring your pots in. Place them in a warm, sunny window. The warmth is your bulbs’ signal to awaken. As soon as they emerge from the ground, they will need light to grow and bloom.
So, right about now you are probably wondering about how long a particular bulb needs to be chilled and how long the growing period is to reach the blooming stage. Well, you guessed the answer…. it depends. It depends upon
the particular bulb.To find the answer, simply refer to the Bulb Forcing Timetable

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Tip: To extend the blooms, move the pots to a cool location at night and while you are out of the house.

More Information:

The Ready Store
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease" ~ Thomas Jefferson

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