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Force Bulbs to Bloom in Winter

Would you love to decorate your home with live, out of season flowers? Well, there is a way to force bulbs to bloom during winter, but it requires preparation and patience.Bulbs become dormant in early fall and develop stronger roots in the winter. They then bloom in the spring and summer. In order to force these bulbs to bloom indoors during the winter you’ll need to keep the plants cool earlier than nature intended.

This practice isn’t successful for all varieties of plants. The bulbs that work best out of season are hyacinths, snowdrops, tulips, and daffodils. You can go to your local nursery or garden center and buy “pre-chilled” or “pre-forced” bulbs that have already been prepared. All you’ll have to do is repot the plants and wait for them to grow.

If you want to force bulbs to bloom yourself here are some tips:

  1. Pick the bulb. Know how to pick a healthy bulb. Pick large bulbs that are firm without sprouts. Avoid all soft, small, or blemished bulbs.
  2. Know the time. For sprouted flowers by winter, plant in the bulbs in October. Depending on the variety, you’ll get blossom from January- March.
  3. Planting. Use a 5- 7 inch pots. Use a potting mixture with sand, garden soil, and peat moss. Avoid fertilizer. You should be able to see the tips of the hyacinths and tulips, half of the daffodil bulbs, and the snowdrops should be one inch below the soil. Don’t forget to water the plant.
  4. Cool Storage. For better root development keep the plants in a cool environment, between 40- 45°F for 10 to 16 weeks (depending on the plant). This can be a cool basement, cellar, or an old refrigerator.
  5. Blooms. After the cooling period bring the plant to a bright window with no direct sunlight. Keep the plant at 60°F.
  6. Make it last. The plant will bloom shortly, but to make them last keep them away from heat and place them in a cool room at night.

Remember: Bulbs that have been forced will be less lively during the next season. You may want to discard them and buy new bulbs for next year.

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