It’s possible to have a beautiful arrangement of bulbs to display mid-winter if you start to force them near the end of October. Forcing a bulb means to get it to produce its shoot, leaves, and flower out of its natural environment ahead of its natural schedule. It is actually quite easy to do! Some popular bulbs for forcing are tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth, just to name a few. Visit our garden store to see what varieties are available.
Aside from whichever type of bulb(s) you choose, you will need the following items:
- A pot- any type will work as long as there are drainage holes at the bottom.
- Potting soil- it is best to have soil that provides good drainage.
- Small trowel- you can even use a kitchen spoon if your trowel is too large.
- A cover- this may not be necessary depending on where you are going to place your pot for the cold period.
The first thing to do is plant your bulbs in the container that you have chosen. Fill the container will soil. Make some impressions in the soil where you are going to place the bulb(s). Make sure to plant right side up- this is usually the pointy end. Some bulbs, like hyacinth, look nice planted singly. Others, like tulips, look great in groups of odd numbers. Generally, the smaller the bulb, the more you can plant together. When planting more than one, place the bulbs as close as possible without touching. Leave the tops of the bulbs exposed. Water well.
Next, the bulb(s) will have to be placed in a cool, dark location. This can be somewhere like a garage, a cold room, or even the refrigerator. The temperature should be between 4 and 10°C and should not fluctuate. If your bulbs will be receiving light where you place them be sure to cover with a lid, box, or tin foil. Depending on the type of bulb you have planted, your plants will have to stay in this location for 12-16 weeks, except for hyacinths which will be 8-12 weeks. Throughout this time, make sure the soil stays moist, but not soggy.
You will know when it is ready to move your pots to their next location when you see shoots extending about 2-3 inches above the soil. You may also see fine white roots emerging from the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, depending how large your pot is. At this point, you should move them to a cool location that is approximately 15°C. They should receive moderate light and it’s best to turn the pots every couple of days to make sure the stems grow straight. Don’t allow the soil to dry out at this point.
After a few weeks, the foliage will fill out and the buds will become plump. You can now move the pot to a bright, sunny location where the temperature is approximately 18°C. If the plants are kept in a location that is too warm at this point, the flowering time may be greatly reduced.
Once the flowers open, move them out of direct sunlight. This will help the blooms last longer.
Although you will have to wait three or more months to enjoy your beautiful blooms, you should find it well worth the wait. It is not hard to do and you can enjoy fresh flowers while there is still snow on the ground.