The Q&A Archives: Forcing Bulbs

Question: Can you please tell me how I can force bulbs indoors? I would like to hve lots of color indoors throughout the winter. Thank you for your time.

Answer: The easiest bulbs to force indoors are paperwhites and amaryllis. These are simply planted, watered lightly, and then placed in a bright location to grow and bloom within a month or two with exact timing depending on the growing conditions including temperature. Paperwhites are usually discarded after forcing, but with care amaryllis can be kept from year to year to rebloom again and again.

Most other types of bulbs such as tulips will require a chilling period of several months prior to being encouraged to grow in a cool but very bright location. The chilling can sometimes be done outdoors in a cold but not freezing location such as a cold garage, but more often the pots of bulbs are buried in the ground, or placed in a refrigerator reserved for this purpose for the prescribed length of time.

To give you an example of what is involved, you might want to look at this article about forcing tulips.

For detailed instructions on forcing the many different types of bulbs, I would suggest you look at Flowering Bulbs for Dummies by Judy Glattstein, ISBN 0-7645-5103-5. It is widely available in libraries and book stores and will explain the timing and temperature requirements as well as planting techniques.

Enjoy that winter color!

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