Forcing Flower Bulbs

Home forcing of flower bulbs indoors can be a fun hobby with beautiful dividends!

To get started, follow these simple steps:

  1. Choose a pot that will accomodate several bulbs comfortably and place some Pro-Mix on the bottom to provide better drainage.
  2. Partially fill the pot with potting soil and press down slightly. Press the bulbs lightly into the soil. They may be allowed to almost touch one another. With tulips, arrange them so that the flat sides of their bulbs face the wall of the pot.
  3. Continue to fill the pot with soil so that the "noses" of the bulbs disappear under the soil surface. Sprinkle generously with water to encourage rooting.
  4. Provide the planted flower bulbs with the required cold period (see chart below). As soon as the flower bud has emerged from the bulb, the pots can be placed in a warm location.

It is absolutely necessary that the bulbs spend an appropriate amount of time in a cold environment. See the chart below for more information on specific times. It's also helpful if the environment is dark, but it's not crucial. If you don't have a cool room available, you can bury your pots in the garden for the indicated length of time provided it isn't too wet.

The chart shows you how long the flower bulbs need to be kept cold and when you can expect them to bloom. Planting times last from early September until December, but the earlier you plant the bulbs, the earlier they will bloom. If you do not provide the bulbs with a sufficiently long cold period, the flowers will have short stems, while a cold period that is too long produces plants that are too tall.

After the cold treatment, you should put the bulbs in a warm room. It will be another 2 to 3 weeks before the flowers will be in full bloom. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) and paperwhites (Tazetta narcissi) can be put in a warm location immediately after purchase because these bulbs do not require a cold treatment.

Planting Time Cold Period (Weeks) Earliest Flowering
Prepared 09-15 / 12-15 10-12 Dec. 15
Not Prepared 10-15 / 12-01 11-13 Jan. 15
'Flair' 10-01 / 12-01 13-15 Feb. 01
'Monte Carlo' 10-01 / 12-01 13-15 Feb. 01
'Negrita' 10-01 / 12-01 14-15 Feb. 01
'Page Polka' 10-01 / 12-01 14-15 Feb. 01
'Pinocchio' 10-01 / 12-01 13-15 Feb. 01
'February Gold' 10-01 / 12-01 13-14 Jan. 15
'Dutch Master' 10-01 / 12-01 13-16 Feb. 01
'Ice Follies' 10-01 / 12-01 14-16 Feb. 01
'Tete-a-Tete' 10-01 / 12-01 13-15 Jan. 15
Crocus 10-01 / 11-01 14-15 Feb. 01
Iris reticulata 10-01 / 11-01 13-15 Jan. 15
Muscari armeniacum 10-01 / 11-01 14-15 Feb. 01