DIY: Force Flowering Bulbs to Bloom!
How much do you know about forcing bulbs to grow and bloom indoors?
There is nothing quite as magical as forcing flowering bulbs to grow inside during the cold months of winter! My daughter had made it a family tradition to force paperwhite bulbs every year right after Thanksgiving. The lovely, creamy white blossoms and the lush green foliage are perfect for Christmas décor. Add a few red amaryllis bulbs if you are more traditional in your color scheme.
The term forcing means to encourage a plant or bulb to produce its shoot, leaf, and flower ahead of its natural schedule and out of its natural environment. I bet not many of you have flowering bulbs growing out of a clear glass vase inside your home on their own accord!
I have included further down on this page some simple instructions for forcing paperwhite bulbs to bloom in a container. But first, take my quiz and see just how much you might already know about bulb forcing! Have fun!
(FYI--blooming paperwhites are a wonderful gift idea for Christmas or Valentine's Day!)
Image from a Creative Commons Search from Flickr user: hlkljgk used with permission.
How to choose bulb for forcing:
(Indoor gardening and planting bulbs can be easy!)
You will want to get the best bulbs for forcing as the bulb itself contains the nutrients for growing the foliage and blooms.
Choose bulbs as you would fresh fruit. Make sure that they are not mushy or soft. Do not use bruised or damaged bulbs.
If you order them online, use only a reputable source.
"Ziva" is a good bulb to purchase. According to Nature Hills Nursery, "They are one of the easiest bulbs to grow indoors, since they do not require any precooling. They are great for growing indoors and Southern Climates."
A Simple Way to Force Paperwhites for a Christmas gift for the home: - Paperwhites AKA Tazetta Narcissus
The term forcing refers to encouraging a plant to produce its shoot, leaf, and flower ahead of its natural schedule and out of its natural environment. You can force plants to grow in pebbles and water, just water or soil in a pot.
Paperwhites are daffodils that will bloom indoors. Catalogs will usually identify the best bulbs for indoor forcing.
Some of my information was obtained from "How to Force Bulbs: Brighten Up Your Winter Interiors".
It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for the paperwhite bulbs to bloom once they are planted. So look at your calendar and plan accordingly.
Here are instructions to force bulbs in water with pebbles:
- Find a container with no drainage holes that is at least 4" deep and wide enough to hold several bulbs. (Note: a taller container will be helpful in holding up the foliage and blooms--note how tall your bulbs will grow if possible and find a container that is about 1/2 as tall.)
- Fill your container 1/2 way with pebbles, stones or marbles. (Note: rinse your stones or pebbles to get all the grit off.)
- Set your healthy, high quality bulbs on top of the stones with the pointy end up and the flat side down. Make sure the bulbs do not touch each other. (6 tulip bulbs, 3 hyacinths, 6 daffodils, or 15 crocus, will fit into a 6-inch wide container.)
- Add more stones so the bulbs stand up alone. You will be covering all but 1/3 of the bulb.
- Add water to the container, taking care not to allow the bulbs to touch the water. No need to fertilize.
- Keep them in a cool, dark room for several weeks to ensure root growth, then place in a sunny location.
- To help the blooms last longer, you can remove the container to a cooler place at night. Small containers with crocus can even be put in the refrigerator overnight. Blooms should last a week or two.
What Paperwhites should look like if you are growing them in containers inside: - (click on each image for a better look and to see information)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yes, you can force paperwhites! - Here is a beautiful Paperwhite for gift giving!
Grow these bulbs on a window sill!!
Artificial Narcissus in a Container -- - you cannot kill these bulbs!
Another great gift idea. Give someone the beauty of spring.These blubs will not die as they are fake!
Bulbs that will not die! Go ahead and buy one to improve your reputation and get rid of the "black thumb" moniker forever.
Books to help you grow bulbs out of their season:
Books that will add beauty to the shelves of your home in addition to giving you advice for forcing flowers to bloom indoors.
A beautiful book to adorn your shelves or coffee table.
Simple and straight shooting.
Learn everything you need to know from a book about growing bulbs in containers.
Polished Pebbles for bulb forcing containers: - Supplies On Amazon
I personally think that using pebbles to force bulbs is much cleaner than using dirt. Pebbles are especially recommended by yours truly when using clear containers. I also think that dirt might attract more bugs--as in gnats.
These stones look beautiful any time of the year so you can use them for more than just forcing blooms in winter.
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Have you ever forced bulbs to bloom in your home during the winter? My daughter has had more success than I have, but she keeps forgetting to allow enough time before the holidays to start forcing them to give away as gifts. Consequently, her home is a blooming spring garden of paperwhites around New Year's Eve.
Share your experiences here, if you will. I know I can never get enough information about growing plants and bulbs.