Melinda's Gardening How To: DIY Forcing Bulbs - Pasquesi Home and Gardens
Gardening How To: Forcing Bulbs

Melinda’s Gardening How To: DIY Forcing Bulbs

In just 15 minutes you can plant a beautiful garden guaranteed to brighten your spirits and indoor décor this winter.  All you need is a container with drainage holes, potting mix and some spring flowering bulbs.  Once you have gathered your materials you can get started planting.


Here’s What You Need

  • Bulbs labeled for forcing – although all bulbs will work
    • Include larger flowering bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Alliums
    • Mix with smaller ones like: Crocus, Squills, Grape hyacinths, Iris, Glory of the Snow, winter aconites, showdrops, Anemone blanda
    • Well-drained potting mix
  • Container with drainage holes
  • Recycled or new plastic pots work great for forcing. Dress them up in spring by setting them in a decorative pot or basket.
  • Use attractive pots that showcase your plantings and fit your interior décor.



Planting Tips

  • Monoculture planting – Use one or more of the same size bulb
    • Place potting mix on the bottom of the container
    • Pack the container full of the selected bulbs
    • Cover bulbs with potting mix and fill to within 1/2” of the top of the containe 
  • Layered planting – Use a variety of bulbs for various heights & bloom times
    • Place potting mix on the bottom of the container
    • Plant the larger bulbs at the lowest level
    • Cover these with potting mix
    • Place medium sized bulbs on the next layer above the previously planted bulbs
    • Cover with potting mix
    • Place the smallest bulbs closest to the surface. Cover these with several inches of potting mix 
  • Plant bulbs with pointed end (if they have one) up and root plate down – don’t worry, even those bulbs planted upside down will grow
  • Place tulip bulbs with the flat-side out for the best display.



  • Water thoroughly after planting the bulbs
  • Place potted bulbs in a cool location (35 to 45 degrees) for 15 weeks. Options include:
    • Sinking the pot in the ground outdoors
    • Placing the pot in an unheated garage away from the overhead door– Set pot on wood board and further insulate the container with items found in your garage
    • Chill in an extra refrigerator. Be sure to keep them away from apples
    • Moisten soil if it dries in storage

Forcing into Bloom

  • After the 15 weeks of chill you can start bringing them into flowering
    • Move to a cool bright location
    • Allow 2 to 4 weeks for flowers to appear
    • Move to a warmer location to shorten the time to flowering
    • Move to a cooler location to increase the time to bloom
    • Stagger the times pots are removed from cold storage to extend bloom time and your enjoyment
  • Stake tall plants for support
    • Prune or purchase a few twigs for a natural look
    • Use bamboo or decorative stakes for added beauty


After Bloom Care

  • Treat forced bulbs like houseplants
    • Remove spent flowers
    • Water thoroughly and as needed to keep soil slightly moist
    • Fertilize with a dilute solution of flowering plant fertilizer
    • Then follow tips for planting outdoors
  • Compost
    • You’ll be returning the bulbs to the garden in a different form
  • Plant outdoors after danger of frost or store in a cool dark location until fall
    • These bulbs may not bloom until the 2nd spring after planting
    • Forced hybrid tulips and hyacinths may never bloom again but provided lots of enjoyment indoors


Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!


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