How To Force Bulbs Indoors

Year Round Colour

Winter and the garden is sleeping under a thick blanket of snow, keeping warm until Spring arrives and calls the bulbs that brighten our Springtime gardens and ease our snow worn eyes.

You do not have to wait until Spring to enjoy your favourite bulbs; thee is no need to wait for those splashes of colour to break the monotony of the winter yard. You can grow you favorites indoors all Winter long.

The way you achieve this indoor bloom is by using a method that is called forcing and it is not as painful as it sounds. Your indoor garden will work best when you select bulbs that are hardy, this way you will be able to have colour throughout the seasons,

The following are the hardy bulbs that are most commonly forced:

- crocuses (Crocus species),

- daffodils (Narcissus species),

- hyacinths (Hyacinthus species)

- tulips (Tulipa species).

You can also force:

- Dutch iris (I. x hollandica)

- netted iris (Iris reticulata),

- snowdrop (Galanthus species)

- grape hyacinth (Muscari species),\

- winter aconite (Eranthis species)

- star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum species),

- and Brodiaea species.

There are some bulbs that are difficult to force and may require special conditions such as artificial lighting, among these are the Allium, Camassia, Lilium and Scilla species.

There are four stages involved when forcing bulbs:

(1) selecting appropriate bulbs;

(2) planting;

(3) cooling;

(4) Forcing into flower.

You will achieve the best results when you but the cultivars that are recommended for forcing. ; This is important when you are working with daffodils, hyacinths and tulips, where the cultivar selection is wide.

The bulbs need to be handled with care so avoid exposing them to temperature extremes for example.

If you are not going to plant them immediately then be sure store them in a cool place (35 to 55 °F). You can place bare bulbs in the refrigerator for several weeks before you pot them.

It is best to keep them in a paper or mesh bag than have holes for breathing. If you are going to use the crisper drawer in your fridge make sure that you do not put fruit or vegetables in the same drawer. The ripening process gives off a gas that may harm the bulbs.

Remember that some bulbs are poisonous, and should not be eaten so if you have young children it may be best not to use the fridge for bulb storage.

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Comments 16 comments

Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

That is very interesting. I'm going to follow your advice. I'm not too good with bulbs.

Thanks Bob for a great HUB

regards Zsuzsy


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for the comment. this is simple to do if you follow the steps.


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

Another great hub Bob, I didn't realize you can grow so many in here. Well done.


Sending Flowers online 8 years ago

This is a great piece from you,Bob. It's is really of great usefulness.


nancy 7 years ago

HELP!!! i HAVE FORCED LARGE ALLUM BULBS THAT i bought in Jan. they are all coming up nicely now and IT was my intertion to place them in my prerenal garden some time this spring......It is too early to put them outside now but what to do in the mean time?and I am not sure it they will take as furture prenals any thouhts (I am on the south shore of NS and as you know the weather is unperdicable at best and the ground is still frozen!)


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I suggest repotting them in larger containers until you can plant them out.


nancy 7 years ago

Bob they are about 3 ins up now and I still have them in the dark......what do you think I should do? Are you sujesting I bring them upstairs now and keep them inside for a few weeks more in containers? and if so when do you think I should put them outdoors(while still in new containers? or from the inside strait into the garden)

thanks so much!


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I'd keep them in the dark for another week, then transplant them into containers, keeping them inside until aroound May 25 or so, dependning upon the last frost date in your area. Then you can move them outside to the garden.


nancy 7 years ago

Thanks Bob I'll go from there


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

If you have other questions, please ask.


Andrea 5 years ago

My dad will be finished his chemo treatments end of march. I bought bulbs, planning to plant them in the late fall. I wanted to surprise him with the beautiful flowers at the end of his treatment(blue passion bend tulipa and crocus). The ground was to hard to plant the bulbs in November as he lives in the great white north (Niagara, LoL). Now what do I do? The bulbs have been sitting in my Moms fridge, it is now March 8. Some of the bulbs are sprouting others are soft and seem to be moldy. Id like to plant them, they look like a gorgeous mix of beautiful flowers. I'm new to gardening, but I love gardening. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you :) Happy gardening


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

I would pot up the bulbs that are sprouting and place them in a sunny window for now. Be sure to water them.


Andrea  5 years ago

Thank you. I will give it a whirl....... WEEEEEEE!!!!!!

I hope they end up looking half as beautiful as they look on the bag.

After they bloom in a pot, when can I place them in the ground.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Happy growing.


don 5 years ago

I have paperwhite force bulbs that I started a couple months ago in a dark closet ,they are now about 11/2 ft tall and they are falling over and are without much green color to them did I leave them in the dark to long ? Can I cut them back or have I lost them ...They seemed to be stingy also. any ideals


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You have nothing to lose by cutting them back, they ,may have sat in the dark too long.

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