Plants - Flower Bulbs

10 steps to forcing spring bulbs

Issue GDNI10030001

This article appeared in March 2010 issue

Get spring started early by growing tulips, daffodils and other early bloomers indoors

While the last weeks of winter may seem to drag on for eternity, keen gardeners keep their eyes peeled to the drab, dormant earth for signs of life from crocuses, daffodils and tulips that herald the true start of the new planting season. Why not bring the vibrant colour you're longing for indoors by forcing spring bulbs?

While some nurseries will sell pre-chilled bulbs over the winter, the best time to buy bulbs is in the fall.

2. Look for big healthy-looking bulbs without any soft spots. If you are buying tulips, make sure the label states that you can force them.

3. If you are planting multiple bulbs in one large pot, make sure they all have the same bloom time.

4. Choose a pot with good drainage and wash it well before use.

5. Don’t let the bulbs touch; if one rots, it won’t affect the rest.

6. Cover bulbs with just enough soil so that the noses show and water thoroughly.

7. Fill the pot with good-quality, indoor potting soil, leaving a few centimetres at the top.

8. Plant bulbs close to the edge of the pot so the leaves will drape outward.

9. Place the pots in a dark, cold room. Check the pots every two weeks to make sure the soil is still moist, but not wet.

10. After about 12 to 16 weeks (or when you see shoots two to three centimetres above the soil), place the pot in a warm room with bright, indirect light. Once you see flower buds, move the pot to
a full sun location.

Note: Too much warmth—especially at night—will lead to lanky, floppy stems, and blooms will tip over.

The best bulbs to force


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