The Q&A Archives: Forcing Bulbs in Water

Question: I have tried to "force" spring bulbs to bloom since the fall of 96', but they came out now--in spring (or late winter). I am not sure if that is how the term "force" should be used, but what I meant was when I place a bulb on top of a bottle of water, indoors. I will allow the roots to grow and flowers to bloom, sustained by plain tap water. My hyacinths are now in full bloom, and smell great! Now my question is the CLEAN-UP or WHAT TO DO AFTERWARDS; after the blooms wither and fall off.(?). What should I do to the dangling roots and the dead blooms and leaves? Thank you. Cathy Lew Seattle, WA

Answer: The term "forcing" refers to the practice of bringing spring-flowering bulbs (or trees or shrubs or perennials) into bloom indoors in winter. The procedure consists of manipulating temperatures and light conditions to simulate the period of cold neededby these plants for their annual rest period, then awakening them earlier than they would wake by themselves if they were outdoors. Bulbs can be grown in water but, in the process, will exhaust themselves and must be discarded. All bulbs do better when "forced" in soil. Then they can be fed and saved for outdoor planting in the fall.

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