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

Melinda’s Gardening How-To: Forcing Bulbs

Purchase a few bulbs for forcing or use a few of the bulbs purchased for your garden. Use forced bulbs to brighten your indoor decor throughout the winter or on your patio or in window boxes next spring. It’s simple to do and the rewards are great.

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,            snowdrops, 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 sinking then in window boxes.
        • Use attractive pots that showcase your plantings and fit your landscape design. Make sure the pots can tolerate cold conditions.


Planting Tips
• Monoculture Plantings– Use one type of bulb.
        • Place potting mix on the bottom of the container.
        • Pack the container full of the selected bulbs.
        • Cover the bulbs with potting mix and fill to within 1/2″ of the top of the container.
• 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 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 flat-side out for best display.


• Water thoroughly after planting bulbs.
• Place potted bulbs in 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 door–place on wood board and further insulate the container with itms found in your garage.
        • Chill in 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 2-4 weeks to bring to bloom indoors. 
        • Move to a warmer location to shorten time to bloom. 
        • Move to a cooler location to lengthen time to bloom.
        • Stagger the times pots are removed from cold storage to extend bloom time and your enjoyment.            • Paperwhites are the exception. They do not need a cold treatment to flower. Plant in stones or soil with the pointed end exposed.
        • Prevent floppy growth with a shot of alcohol. Cornell University found mixing one cup of an 80 proof (40% alcohol) liquor with 7 cups of water to create a 5% solution will stunt growth of paperwhites by 30 to 50%. Be careful as too much alcohol can damage the plants. 
       • Stake tall plants for support.  Prune or purchase a few twigs for a natural look.                                                                                                                          • Prune or purchase a few twigs for a natural look or set forced bulbs in a glass vase for a clear view.


After Bloom Care
• Treat forced bulbs like houseplants.
        • Remove spent flowers.
        • Water thoroughly and as needed to keep soil slightly moist. Fertilize with a diluted solution of flowering plant fertilizer.

• 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 second spring after planting.
        • Forced hybrid tulips and hyacinths may never bloom again.


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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