Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Forcing spring flowering bulbs indoors.

Forcing bulbs is a great way to bring a little spring color into the house, while its still winter outside. To force a bulb is to get the bulb to flower indoors ahead of its natural schedule. Forcing bulbs indoors is easy to do and virtually all spring flowering bulbs can be forced, tulips, hyacinths and daffodils. Amaryllis and paperwhites are popular holiday bulbs that do not need a chilling-off period to bloom.
Bulbs will grow equally well in clay, ceramic or plastic pots, as long as the pot has drainage.
Next, select quality bulbs. The larger the bulb, the bigger the bloom will be. Fill the container about 3/4s full of quality potting soil. Add Bone Meal or Dutch Bulb Food to your potting mix. Bulbs that are forced can be planted outside after blooming and the fertilizer will give them an extra boost.
Place the bulbs close together, but not touching each other. Tulips should be placed with the flat side of the bulb toward the edge of the container. This will allow the first leaves to form a nice border around the edge of the pot.
Fill in enough soil so just the tips are showing. Water the soil. Place the pot in a cool (35°-45°), dark spot such as a spare refrigerator, unheated garage or basement. Spring flowering bulbs require 12 to 15 weeks in cold storage in order to bloom.
While the bulbs are chilling, they will form roots, so it’s important to water regularly. Once the tips of the bulbs are about 2” high, remove from cold storage and place in a warmer room, with bright, indirect sunlight. Your bulbs can now be treated as any houseplant, water regularly, feed weekly and enjoy your blooms! After blooming, remove the spent flowers. Bulbs may be planted outside after blooming.
Hyacinths can also be forced in water several ways. Select a forcing vase, add water and set bulb in the vase and into a cool spot. Roots will form over the next 10-12 weeks. Another way is to chill hyacinth bulbs in a paper bag in the refrigerator, then place the bulb in a forcing vase and set in a sunny, warm spot and enjoy the flowers.

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