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Forcing Bulbs

Posted on February 18, 2014 by SDG

Now is the time to start forcing bulbs to get some life in your home before spring!

If you would like instant gratification, the Paperwhite and Amaryllis flowers start sprouting a few days after planting and bloom about four to eight weeks later.  Other types of bulbs such as the Tulip, Crocus and Hyacinth need a few months (12-18 weeks) chilling to simulate the winter, and then about three to four weeks until bloom.  It is essential to choose bulbs that are firm with no signs of bruises or discoloration.

Here is how to force a Paperwhite (Narcissus papyraceus):


  1. The planting can be done in a shallow ceramic or glass container without a drainage hole.
  2. Fill the pot with washed pebbles/gravel/stones and put the bulb, root side down, onto the pebbles.  You can put as many bulbs in the container that fit without them touching.
  3. Add some more pebbles to cover 1/3-1/2 of the bulb.


4. Fill the container with water so it just barely hits the bottom of the bulb (no more than 1/4-1/3 should be covered).  Be sure to not put too much water in or drip water onto the top of the bulb while watering for the bulb will rot.  Keep this level of water throughout the entire growing season.


5. Place your bulbs in indirect light for the first few weeks and move to a brighter place as the sprout gets larger.  Rotate the container every few days to keep the light source at all angles of the plant so it will grow upright.


6. Watch your Paperwhite’s roots grow rapidly in the pebbles (this is where a glass container is really neat) and the stems and flowers blossom into a beautiful winter delight.


Keep posted for other ways to make spring come sooner in your home!

Forcing Branches to Bloom Inside


Shrubs with Color!