Now that my garden is put to bed I can concentrate on other ‘gardening’ activities inside. Forcing bulbs inside is a good way to have blooming flowers mid winter. They also make a great present, who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of bulbs when the world is white outside! Tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley can be forced into flower in late winter or early spring. A pot of tulips on your windowsill in February can brighten your spirits!
It is a good idea to keep the same variety in one pot as the blooming times often vary. Bulbs are also planted much closer together than you plant them outside. With the exception of narcissus bulbs, bulbs must be given a cold temperature of 35-48 degrees F for a minimum of 12-14 weeks. You can either keep them in a cold frame, an unheated attic or cellar or even a refrigerator! In the refrigerator the pots should be covered with plastic bags that have a few holes punched in them.
Since I didn’t want to have to put my bulbs in a cold spot for weeks, I am gong to force paper white narcissus bulbs. I found some very healthy looking bulbs at the local nursery.
First I rinsed the gravel to get rid of the dust. I filled each of my bowls with gravel about 2/3rds full. I then nestled the bulbs in the gravel ½ to 1 inch apart, placing the pointed side up. Then fill in gravel around the bulbs, leaving the top halves exposed. Place them in good light and add water up to the base of the bulbs. Keep the water level at this height. I then placed the pots in a cool area. Within a few days roots will appear. When green shoots appear, move the pot to a cool, sunny spot. Sit back and watch them grow and bloom. It’s nice to enjoy a little bit of spring color for your home when everything outside is covered with snow!