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How to Force Flower Bulbs
Flower Bulb Forcing for Indoor Blooms
Indoor forcing flower bulbs is a fun winter project and a great way to learn about flower bulbs. Indoor forcing means that we trick the bulbs, or force them, to bloom when or where they would otherwise not bloom. To do this it is essential that the bulbs receive a cold period to break the dormancy and produce a flower bud. Most fall planted bulbs need 12-14 weeks of cold temperatures (temperatures below 50 degrees consistently during the day) in order to grow and produce a flower. We can provide this cold period to the bulbs and force them to bloom in our homes by following these instructions:
How To Force Bulbs For Indoor Blooms
- Spring flowering bulbs that can be used for indoor forcing are hyacinths, daffodils, tulips and some of the smaller bulbs like crocuses.
- Purchase your flower bulbs. If you plan ahead and buy fall planted bulbs in summer or early fall, you can start chilling them once you receive the bulbs in fall. For most bulbs, optimal temperatures during this period range from
40º to 45ºF. The temperatures should not drop below 30° for too long
- If you do not have enough time or capability to chill the bulbs yourself you can buy pre-chilled bulbs. Pre-chilled bulbs have received the necessary 12-14 weeks of the cold temperatures required to produce a flower bud.
- For best results plant your bulbs prior to the chilling process, so that they may grow roots while in cold storage. If using pre-chilled bulbs plant your bulbs immediately upon receiving in pots and store in a cool location (between 40 and 60 degrees) for 4-6 weeks while the roots form. Be sure the pots you are using have adequate drain holes.
- When planting the bulbs in pots, keep the top portion of the bulb at or above surface level. The bulbs may be planted very close together in the pots, as long as they are not touching each other.
- After planting water the soil, so that it is evenly moist. During the chilling time the pots do not need regular watering, however they should not dry out completely. Spraying the soil with a spray bottle is a good way to keep the soil from drying out, but prevent over watering.
- Once the bulbs have received their 12-14 week period of cold, most the bulbs and pots to a cool area. Areas like a basement or unheated room work well. Store the bulbs and pots in this location for 3-4 weeks while they acclimate and begin to wake up.
- When 1-2" of green growth appears you can move the pots and bulbs to a warm area in your home, that received indirect sunlight.
- Flowers will appear 2-4 weeks after you have moved the pots to a warm location in your home.
Growing Flower Bulbs in Vases with Water
Hyacinth and paperwhite bulbs work best for forcing in vases. Hyacinth bulbs will need at least 12 weeks of cold temperatures (below 50 during the day consistently) in order to produce a flower bud. Paperwhites do not require cold temperatures to produce a flower. Place the hyacinth bulb in your forcing vase with water just below the bulb so that the roots from the bulb will grow into the water. Place the vase with water and bulb in a refrigerator for 12 weeks to chill the bulb. Remove the vase and water from the refrigerator and move to a cool location for 2-3 weeks so the bulb can acclimate to the warmer temperature. After 2-3 weeks move the bulb and vase to a warm, and bright location in your home.
Flower Bulbs for Christmas Blooms
We sell Amaryllis and Paperwhites that are easy and great ways to have beautiful indoor blooms for the Christmas season. These bulbs do not need a cold period to bloom! Shop Paperwhites & Amaryllis