Forcing bulbs in winter can be intimidating but I assure you it is not difficult, and with a few easy steps you can enjoy all the beauty of spring inside the warmth of your home. The first thing is to check that the bulbs you are forcing are prepped and ready to grow.
Bulbs need to be pre-chilled before blooming. This pre-chilling treatment mimics winter, when you plant the bulb it thinks that it’s spring and will start to grow immediately. Hardy bulbs need to be chilled between a minimum of 4°-9°C for 15 weeks.
An old refrigerator, root cellar or cold room are all good options. Just make sure you do not store your bulbs next to ripening fruit like apples, as this can damage the bulb. If you don't have a cold space indoors, you can plant the bulbs in a container outside and bring the pot indoors after the 15 weeks have passed.
Here's the good news! We've done all the work of pre-chilling for you. No need to wait, your bulbs are ready to plant.
You have a few choices when it comes to indoor planting. You can plant bulbs into a growing medium like potting soil or vermiculite, or you can place it in a vessel with just water. When you plant your bulbs you can pack them in quite tightly, but make sure they do not touch.
Plant with the roots facing downward and the tips facing up. The bulbs need to be barely covered with your growing medium, and if they are not entirely covered that is fine. Make sure you have good drainage in the container you are using, or place stones under the growing medium to provide extra drainage. If you decide to plant into a vase or straight water, ensure that only the bottom of the bulb is touching the water, as the bulb will rot if too much of it is submerged. I like to use an open vessel filled with stones to place the bulbs on, but we have had success forcing bulbs with both growing techniques.
Once planted, you can expect to see green growth right away and flowers starting to emerge 2-4 weeks later. The timeline will vary depending on light and temperature. Enjoy your blooms and cut them away once finished. Keep the bulb moist and in indirect light and you can plant them out into the garden in spring. They will continue to bloom outside the following year and can be enjoyed for years to come.
In our store we have some bulbs already potted up and growing, so you can enjoy those gorgeous blooms even sooner. We hope our bulb offering brings spring joy as we head into the last leg of winter!