The Q&A Archives: Bulb Forcing

Question: I am new at bulb forcing, and have been told that you can store the bulbs in paper bags in the crisper section of your refrigerator for 6 to 12 weeks before planting. This idea is very appealing, as I do not have much room to pot the bulbs, then store them in the fridge. Will this work? And if so, after you plant the bulbs in soil, do you still keep them in a cool dark place, or can you put them in a lighted area to grow? Also, if you keep bulbs in the fridge without planting, will they last longer, and can you plant them at any time?

Answer: Spring-flowering bulbs require a prolonged winter chill before they'll grow roots and foliage. Putting them in the refrigerator will accomplish this. (The length of the chilling period differs from bulb type to bulb type.) After the prescribed chilling treatment, plant the bulbs in pots and place the pots outdoors. (The bulbs will need this additional period of cool and dark conditions in order to develop roots.) Keep the soil in the pots moist. Once the bulbs begin to sprout and the tips of the foliage are about an inch high, you can bring the pots indoors to finish forcing the plants, and bring them into bloom a few weeks earlier than they would bloom outdoors. Try to keep the pots in a cool location when you bring them indoors. If the temperature is too warm, the foliage will grow too rapidly and be pale and spindly. Good luck with your bulb-forcing venture!

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