The Q&A Archives: Exact Date For Blooms On Forced Tulips

Question: My daughter is getting married on April 14th, 2000. I have tulip bulbs in my refrigerator and would like to force them to bloom as close as I could to April 14th. I have forced them before and they were wonderful, but without a timetable for blooming. Could you give me an approximate timetable for blooming? Or better yet when I should plant them in my special potting soil? Thank you so much! I love your site!

Answer: It's impossible to predict exactly how long it will take for bulbs to sprout and come into bloom. The speed at which they develop depends on all sorts of factors, such as type of tulip, temperature, depth of planting, etc.

Tulips usually take from 14 to 17 weeks from potting to flowering. (The chilling period lasts about 10 weeks.) If you count back from April 14, 14 weeks is January 7, 17 weeks is Dec. 17. So I would begin potting up some of the tulips around Dec. 17, then stagger plantings weekly. Of course this means you'll have a number of different pots, and this can take up quite a bit of room in the refrigerator!

I suggest you do this for fun, with the hopes that some are in bloom, but that you make alternate plans just in case they don't bloom right on time. You should be able to purchase tulips in bloom in April. Greenhouse growers are able to carefully control temperatures and light and moisture levels to force tulips to bloom at specific times. It's much more difficult for the home gardener to control conditions so specifically.

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