The Q&A Archives: forcing bulbs

Question: I live in an area with a very short growing season. It is still freezing at night, but I wanted to get my gladiola and freesia bulbs going. I've heard of forcing bulbs, can I force them indoors and then transfer them outside once it's warm enough? How exactly do I force them?
Thank you!

Answer: Glads might not like to be transplanted once they've begun to sprout foliage and grow roots, but there may be a way to get a jump-start on the season. Glad corms take from 70-100 days from planting to flowering. You could plant them in two-gallon or five-gallon nursery containers (set the corms 8" deep, and 6" apart), water well, and place the pots in an area that stays above freezing, such as a garage or unheated basement. When the outside weather remains above freezing, take the pots outdoors and bury them to the rims in the garden bed. The weeks they spent in the garage or basement can be counted as 'planting' time. Give this method a try and see if it works for you.

Freesias are similar to other bulbs, except they don't need a period of chilling prior to planting. Plant the corms about 2 inches deep (pointed end up) in moist potting soil. They need bright light and warm temperatures (70F degrees in the daytime, 50F degrees at night). Freesias require about 3 months of growth time before they will bloom. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, while you're waiting for the weather to warm up. When it has, take the pots outdoors and sink them into the ground. Then just step back and wait for those fragrant blooms to appear.

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