Force Flowering Bulbs for Winter

The winter garden may be asleep, but you can bring spring color and scent indoors by growing preforced bulbs as houseplants.
Hyacinths and Narcissus Flower Longer in Cool Room

Hyacinths and Narcissus Flower Longer in Cool Room

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - How to Grow

The most effective displays use bulbs that have been "preforced," which simply means they have been chilled and fooled into thinking that winter has already passed, and can be grown to bloom for Christmas and New Year.

When to Start: early autumn
At Their Best: winter to early spring
Time to Complete: 1 hour

Materials Needed:

  • preforced bulbs, at least three per bowl
  • containers (with drainage holes); use deep pots for daffodils
  • potting soil
  • bulb fiber
  • moss for decoration

Hyacinths: Plant in Bowls

With colorful flowers and a delicious scent, hyacinths are ideal for growing indoors. Put a shallow layer of soil in a bowl. Place the hyacinths on top, not touching each other, with pointed ends up. Add more soil, leaving the top third of the bulbs uncovered. Water well.

Plant Hyacinth Bulbs Pointed End Up

Plant Hyacinth Bulbs Pointed End Up

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Store in Dark

Put the bowl in a cool, dark place for eight weeks. Check regularly and keep the soil slightly moist. Pale yellow leaves will eventually appear, and you should also be able to see the flower buds poking through in the middle.

Store Hyacinth Bulbs in Dark to Force Blooms

Store Hyacinth Bulbs in Dark to Force Blooms

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aftercare

Bring the plants out into the light to flower. Place them in a cool, light spot, but not in bright sun. Water them enough to keep the soil just moist, and turn the bowl daily.

Daffodils: Plant and Stake

Treated miniature daffodils, such as 'Tete-a-Tete' and 'Soleil d'Or', are easy to force, but need lots of light. Plant bulbs in a pot, with the pointed tips just below the soil. Water to settle the soil. Place the pot in a sunny spot to encourage strong growth. Then wait for shoots to appear. Keep the soil moist, and support taller stems with stakes.

Daffodil Garden

Daffodil Garden

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Growing in Water

Forced bulbs can be grown in water alone. Special hyacinth vases hold the bulbs just above the surface, or you can use pebbles in a vase of water to create the same effect. Change the water regularly and keep it topped up, so that it always sits just below the base of the bulb.

Forced Bulb Growth

Forced Bulb Growth

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Next Up

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