Forcing Bulbs Indoors over Winter

How to Force Bulbs Indoors over Winter

Can’t wait until spring for those hyacinths, tulips, or daffodils? Try forcing them to bloom early indoors! You’ll need a cold, dark place to chill your bulbs, such as a spare refrigerator that has no fresh fruit stored in it, or an unheated space such as a basement or garage that will stay above freezing, but no warmer than 40 degrees Farenheit. Plant and begin chilling your bulbs about 4 months before you want them to bloom (plant/chill beginning in October to bloom in February). Once you’ve decided where you will chill your bulbs, here’s what you’ll need:

  • A shallow bowl or pan for soaking the roots
  • Flowerpots
  • Well-draining potting soil
  • Water

Image of hyacinth forcing bulbs indoors

Planting the Bulbs

Step 1:

Fill a shallow bowl or pan with lukewarm water and soak the bottom roots of the bulbs for a few hours.

Step 2:

Add about 3″ of potting soil to the bottom of the flowerpot.

Step 3:

Place your bulbs on top of the soil with the pointy side up. They should be close together but not touching.

Step 4:

Add potting soil to cover each bulb up to the base of the neck. For larger bulbs you can leave the top one-third to one-half of the bulb exposed.

Step 5:

Firmly but gently press down the soil around the bulbs.

Step 6:

Water just enough to evenly moisten the soil and allow any excess water drain out. Try to avoid getting water on the necks of the bulbs.

Step 7:

Place the potted bulbs in your chilling area (refrigerator, unheated basement or garage). If chilling in a refrigerator it’s extremely important not to store any fresh fruit in it, as the ethylene gas released by the produce will spoil the bulbs. Check on the bulbs occasionally during the chilling period – the soil should remain damp, but not soggy. Water lightly if the soil dries out completely.

Step 8:

Toward the end of the chilling period, check your bulbs for roots and shoots. You may see new white roots beginning to poke out of drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, or you may need to dig out one of the bulbs a little bit to check the bottom. There could be shoots coming up before the bulbs have rooted. It doesn’t hurt to keep them chilled a little longer to be sure the roots are strong enough.

Step 9:

After the bulbs have rooted, place them in indirect sunlight in a slightly warmer place (about 50 to 60 degrees Farenheit) for a week or two. Then, once the shoots emerge and are a couple inches tall, move them to a sunny spot at room temperature. Water once or twice a week while the shoots are growing. Bulbs should bloom within 3 to 5 weeks, and once they begin blooming increase watering to every day or two to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Please note: Our quality guarantee on bulbs is only valid on bulbs that are planted outdoors in an appropriate hardiness zone within a few days after delivery. Bulbs that are forced indoors over winter are not guaranteed, so proceed at your own risk.

Sign up for a fall fundraiser today!

Are you looking for a fundraising idea this fall? Our fall fundraising program includes favorite spring-blooming bulbs such as hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils. We also offer a variety of indoor seed kits and accessories as part of our fall fundraisers. Plus, potted mums are available for local New England groups within driving distance of Franklin, New Hampshire. Sign up for a fall fundraiser by filling out a registration form. We will begin setting up fall fundraisers about mid-July and will email you all the details you need to manage your fundraiser as soon as it’s been set up.

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