Forcing Bulbs to bloom is a great way to survive those last few weeks of cold weather before the frost date has passed.
There is nothing worse than having to wait through the tail end of winter and the first part of the spring, when the sun is coming out but the ground isn’t quite thawed out enough to get digging.
Appease those those green thumbs, itching at the spring trigger with an easy beautiful indoor forcing bulb garden.
You will need a few pots or large open mouth vases and some moss or attractive gravel to get started.
Select your bulbs and prepare a nice sunny spot by a window.
Tulips, amaryllis, paper-whites, narcissus and hyacinth are great options for beautiful showy blooms. If you select a tall variety be sure you use a heavier vase or pot as some large blooms can become quite top heavy. Tulips enjoy a tall straight sided vase to help them grow straight up without breaking or falling over.
Remember, small bulbs like crocus, grape hyacinths, miniature daffodils, iris, and tulips are easy to force. Large, fragrant hyacinths are also very easy. Look for the largest size bulbs you can find. The bigger bulbs usually produce more flowers. Also, be sure the bulbs are firm, free from nicks and bruises, and that the roots haven’t sprouted yet.
Unless your bulbs are marked as “prechilled,” most flowering bulbs require a period of 35-45 degrees F. order to root and flower. (This simulated winter is not required for amaryllis or paperwhites, which can be potted up according to package directions, watered, and set out in a bright spot.)
Chill potted and bulk bulbs in a closed paper bags and if you chill them in the refrigerator be sure to keep them away from other fruit, especially bananas which emit gases that can damage the developing shoot and buds.
You can start chilling your bulbs as early as September for a January bloom, October for February bloom, November for March bloom, and December for April bloom.
Each bulb type will have different specific chill requirement and time to bloom though, which should be listed with there packaging. Here is a list of general bloom and chill times for reference.
Daffodils: 12-15 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Tulips: 10-16 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Iris reticulata: 13-15 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Snowdrop (Galanthus): 15 weeks of chilling; ~2 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Crocus: 8-15 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Grape hyacinth (Muscari): 8-15 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.
Hyacinth: 12-15 weeks of chilling; ~2-3 weeks to bloom after chilling.