Don’t let this beautifully prolonged fall fool you — winter is coming. And as we put our gardens to rest for the big freeze, it’s an opt time to turn our focus indoors. Forcing bulbs indoors is an undeniably fun way to invite the fresh blooms of spring into your home regardless of the weather outside. With a little planning and preparation, you’ll be enjoying freshly bloomed paperwhites, amaryllis, and hyacinth during the winter freeze!
‘Forcing’ a bulb essentially means coaxing it into producing a shoot, stem and flower outside of its regular environment and schedule. It’s also easier than you might think. Here are step-by-step instructions for forcing bulbs indoors this winter:
STEP 1: PREPARING THE BULBS
Plant your bulbs: Paperwhites, hyacinth, and amaryllis are great candidates for forcing. And although you might not be used to planting bulbs in an indoor container, this process is pretty self-explanatory. Plant your bulbs in some well-draining potting soil, in a container with good drainage. (Remember — this will be the container you display your bloomed arrangement in, so choose wisely!) You may wish to plant individually to produce a single stem, or in a cluster to result in a bouquet of blooms.
Put ‘em away: Next, you’ll need to put your bulbs away for a good while in a cool, dark location. This might be the garage, porch, or even the fridge — so long as the temperature is a consistent 4-10° C. Be sure to cover the bulbs with a lid or a cardboard box to ensure they aren’t exposed to any light during this period.
Mark the calendar: Bulbs need to be left undisturbed for quite some time. For hyacinths, this will mean roughly 8-12 weeks. Ensure that your bulbs aren’t exposed to any light or change in temperature — and be sure to keep the soil moist during this time.
STEP 2: SPROUTING UP
You’ll know it’s time to move your bulbs to the next stage when you notice two-to-three-inch shoots sprouting from the soil. You might also notice roots emerging from the drainage holes out the bottom. Now is the time to move your bulbs to a warmer location, at about 15° C, with some moderate light. Still, be sure to keep the soil watered!
STEP 3: FILLING OUT AND BLOOMING
After a few weeks, you’ll notice the plants beginning to fill out. Now is the time to move the plants to a bright, sunny location with a temperature at 18° C (any warmer, and the flowering time may reduce).
STAGE 4: STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS
Once the flowers open, move them out of direct sunlight — this will help the flowers to last longer.
Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical