Answer: Bulbs can be forced to bloom at almost any time year, but it takes lots of advance planning. Spring-blooming bulbs must be chilled for a period in your 'fridge or they won't bloom. Daffodils, crocus, and grape hyacinth require 10-12 weeks of chilling after being planted in pots. Tulips do better with 12-14 weeks. I'm afraid your gift planters won't bloom for Christmas, but don't abandon your idea. Paperwhite Narcissus (available in white and shades of yellow), tiny daffodil-like bulbs that don't require chilling, are readily available from many nurseries and catalogs at this time of year. They should bloom in time for the holiday.
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