Forcing Bulbs

Planting Tulips

Planting Tulip Bulbs

Forcing, that sounds so harsh! I like to think that I am persuading or sweet talking the bulbs to bloom when they normally wouldn’t.

The most common bulbs for forcing include Amaryllis, Paper Whites, Hyacinth, Tulips, and Daffodils.

Most bulbs will need a rooting period of 12-15 weeks @ 5-9ºC. You can store bare bulbs in the fridge in a mesh or paper bag until you are ready to plant. But to produce flowers, the bulb will need to root in soil for the entire rooting period.

Step One Select a location for the rooting period. I have been successful using an old refrigerator. You can also use a root cellar or a cool basement. Temperature must be between 5-9ºC.

Step Two Choose your container. It needs to have drainage holes, be clean and deep enough to allow at least 2" of soil underneath the bulbs. The tip of the bulb should be even with the rim of the pot when it is planted.

Adding Water

Paperwhites forced with glass bead media. Water level is just below the bottom of the bulb.

Step Three Place 2"of soil in the container.

Step Four Place bulbs in soil. Crowding is good. The more bulbs, the more spectacular the show of flowers will be. Bulbs can even be touching. Plant tulips with the flat edge of the bulb facing the rim of the pot.

Step Five Cover bulbs with soil

Step Six Water well. Allow the soil to settle. Add more soil if necessary. Bulbs will flower from 2-4 weeks after they are brought out of cold storage to a warm bright sunny location. Forcing demands a lot of the bulbs energy. After forcing, the bulbs are best added to the compost pile. They will not flower again if forced or placed in the garden.

You may also force bulbs in a container with pebbles or glass beads. The steps are the same. Cool as you would bulbs planted in soil.

Hyacinth can be forced in a special vase called a hyacinth glass. Cool as you would bulbs planted in soil.

NAME OF BULB WEEKS OF COLD WEEKS TO BLOOM
Amaryllis None 6 to 8 weeks
Crocus 15 weeks 2 to 3 weeks
Daffodil 12 to 14 weeks 3 to 4 weeks
Hyacinth 11 to 14 weeks 3 to 4 weeks
Hyacinth (Pre-Cooled) 8 to 11 weeks 3 to 4 weeks
Narcissus 15 to 17 weeks 2 to 3 weeks
Paper Whites None 3 to 5 weeks
Tulip 14 to 20 weeks 3 to 4 weeks

Grow Guide Print Version