How to Force Bulbs Indoors

Plantings of paperwhites can provide continuous indoor blooms.
paperwhite_pebbles

paperwhite_pebbles

Winter is no reason for a gardener to be deprived of living blooms. And making sure you have flowers to brighten the season — including the holidays — means getting started now.

The easiest bulbs to force are paperwhites because they don't require chilling. Forcing — coaxing, actually — is the term used to describe the process that stimulates bulbs to bloom out of season. Among the most commonly forced bulb flowers are amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus, muscari and hyacinths. Certainly they are the easiest. However, other bulbs that can be forced include colchicum and miniature iris. When selecting bulbs for forcing, look for varieties that are specifically recommended.

Spring-flowering bulbs usually require a rooting period of up to 12 to 15 weeks at temperatures between 41to 48 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a good root system, which is essential if they are to be forced into flower.

Add just enough pebbles or glass marbles to hold the bulbs in place. Don't cover them. But paperwhites (Narcissus tazetta) don't require the 12-week rooting period. Quick and easy to start, they'll bloom within four to six weeks of forcing and give you indoor blooms not only for the holidays but throughout the winter, if you plant them batch after batch.

Paperwhites are most often (and most easily) potted in shallow containers of gravel. Place bulbs on a layer of gravel and carefully fill in enough gravel to hold bulbs, but not cover them. A crowded grouping will be the most attractive.

Add water to the container. It should reach the base of the bulbs, but not touch the bulbs. Place container in a sunny spot, step back and watch 'em grow! You'll see roots in a day or so, and in three to five weeks you'll have gorgeous flowers.

When the bulbs have finished flowering, add them to the compost pile. Bulbs forced without soil use all their energy for that one bloom, and paperwhites, even when forced in soil, rarely revive in the garden.

Next Up

Unconventional Flowers for Fall

When you're looking for unusual fall flowers, think spring for autumn color.

Growing Satisfying Summer Flowers

The budget gardener's trick to growing satisfying summer flowers is to do it from seed.

Cultivating Winter Tulips

From January to April, tulips are one of the season's best buys, indoors and out.

How to Grow Strawberries

Here’s what you need to know to plant strawberries and grow summer’s juiciest, sweetest fruit.

How to Compost Indoors

Even in the middle of winter, you can still collect compostable materials.

Tips to Perk Up a Bleak Winter Garden

Recommendations for adding cold-weather appeal to the garden.

Planting Heirloom Tomatoes

Cultivate these delicious vintage varieties of tomatoes in your garden.

Harvesting Pumpkins, Storing Seeds

Check out these tips for harvesting the fruit of pumpkins and storing the seeds.

Bring the Garden Indoors by Forcing Tree Branches

Find out how to trick those naked branches into blooming.

How to Plant Evergreens in Containers

Learn how to properly plant evergreens in containers to keep color alive in your garden all year around.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

On TV

Good Bones

6am | 5c

Good Bones

7am | 6c

Good Bones

8am | 7c

Good Bones

9am | 8c

Good Bones

10am | 9c

Good Bones

11am | 10c

Good Bones

12pm | 11c

Good Bones

1pm | 12c

Good Bones

2pm | 1c

Good Bones

3pm | 2c

Good Bones

4pm | 3c

Good Bones

5pm | 4c

Good Bones

6pm | 5c

Good Bones

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Good Bones

8pm | 7c

Good Bones

9pm | 8c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Good Bones

12am | 11c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Good Bones

3am | 2c

Good Bones

4am | 3c

Good Bones

5am | 4c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.

Related Pages