Garden Topics: Forcing Bulbs for Winter Color Bulbs for Winter Color

If you love to garden, and feel deprived during the colder weather, forcing bulbs indoors is definitely the way to go. You can experience a whole new group of plants, colors, shapes and sizes that are not normally available during the rest of the year.

Forcing bulbs into a splendid winter bloom is a way to bring on the joys of spring a month or so early.  Most flowering bulbs can easily be "tricked" into blooming indoors in a flowerpot. With a little effort, you can fill several flower pots with bulbs, and time it in such a way to have flowering bulbs for several weeks in the bleakest months.

How to Force Bulbs:

  1. Select your favorite flowering bulbs.
  2. Determine how you want to arrange them. Imagine how they will look flowering in the pot or container. Bulbs Container
  3. Fill the pot or container with good quality potting. Bulbs contain enough food in them for developing their roots and flowers, so don't fertilize during the forcing process.
  4. Plant the bulbs in the container at the proper depth. Just make sure the pot is deep enough to allow at least 1 inch of moist soil mix beneath the bulb.
  5. Water the pots thoroughly. Drain off excess water. Soil should be moist, not wet.
  6. Now the bulbs need a "chilling period", a time when the bulbs are dormant in a cool environment, simulating it's natural underground winter home in cold soil. The ideal temperature for chilling is 35-40 degrees, keeping them as close to this temperature range as possible. Often the garage or a shed are ideal. Do not let the bulbs freeze.
  7. Chill your pots for 12 to 15 weeks. This is the minimum period, but they can be chilled for more. Different bulbs will require varying periods for chilling. Keep in mind if you don't cool a late-flowering variety long enough, the stems will be short, and if you cool an early-floweriBulbs For Winter Colorng variety too long, you can develop excessively long stems.
  8. Check on the pots from time to time. Make sure that the soil has not dried out. During this period, all of the activity is "underground". The bulbs are creating a root system.
  9. After about 10 weeks, begin checking to see if any pots are ready to bring indoors. Typically, when pots are ready, new yellow shoots are visible and you can see roots at the base of the container. At this time, bring your pots into a cool room or greenhouse between 50-55° F and keep them out of direct sunlight initially.
  10. Once the shoots turn green and start to grow, move them into direct light and warmer conditions, about 60° F. You'll still need to water, but just keep the soil moist, not wet. It will take between 3 or 4 weeks for the flowers to appear.
  11. Rotate your pots regularly so that all the leaves getBulbs For Winter Color equal light insuring they remain straight and upright.
  12. When the flower buds start to form and color, you can move your plants out of direct light and into bright indirect light. This will help prolong the bloom period.
  13. To extend the blooms, move the pots to a cool location at night, and while you are out of the house.






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