Forcing Flower Bulbs

Forcing Flower Bulbs

A bowl of flowering bulbs can be delightful in the depths of winter and you can force them to flower as early as Christmas.

Conditions for Forcing

  • Bulbs need at least 4″ of compost for root development and good drainage in the pot.
  • Forced bulbs need a period in the cold at 7-9º Centigrade.
  • Dark conditions are also best
  • If there is no suitable indoor space the pots can be buried outdoors in soil that is not too wet.

Timing for Forcing

  • Plant the bulbs from 1st September until December. The earlier the start the earlier the flower.
  • Short cooling periods equal short stumpy flowers, too long cooling will produce excessively long flower stems.
  • After cooling, bring bulbs into the warmth and they will flower in 2-3 weeks.
Bulb Planting Date No Weeks Chilled
Hyacinth prepared 15.09 -15.12 10-12
Hyacinth unprepared 15.10 -01.12 11-13
Tulip

Blenda, Prominence

Arma, Yellow Present

01.10-01.12 14-15

15-17

Daffodil

Tete-a-Tete

Carlton

01.10-01.12 12-13

14-15

Crocus 01.10-01.11 14-15
Iris Reticula 01.10-01.11 12-13
Muscari 01.10-01.11 14-15

Amaryllis and Paperwhite Daffodils ( Tazeta narcissi) can be put straight into a warm room and do not need the chilling process. Hyacinths can be chilled at slightly warmer temperatures than other bulbs.

Step by Step Guide

  1. Choose a pot that is not too small and ‘crock’  the bottom with stones for drainage.
  2. Partially fill the pot with damp soil or compost and press bulbs down onto the soil.
  3. Keep bulbs close together but not touching.
  4. Place Tulips with the flat side of the bulb towards the pot edge.
  5. Fill the pot until the nose of the bulbs are just covered.
  6. Water generously to encourage rooting.
  7. Cool the pots as above.
  8. When the flower bud is visible transfer to a warm location.

Alternative Methods

  • You can buy forced plants in individual pots around Christmas – January and make your own arrangement by combining several pots in a nice display.
  • Plant your own bulbs in individual pots so you can combine them prior to bringing into the warmth.
  • Put your plants on a porch as they flower. The cool air will help blooms last longer.
  • Support tall varieties with rustic sticks. As you will probably throw the bulbs away a cane can pierce them if necessary.

Further Points and Tips

  • Flower bulbs need water little and often.
  • Mist flowers now and then when in bloom to protect them from drying out in centrally heated rooms.
  • Plant odd numbers in a bowl as this looks more attractive
  • Put names or labels on you pots so you know what you have planted.
  • Put bulbs of one kind and colour together, you can combine pots later to get an arrangement   of colours for display.
  • Read about growing in pots unforced
  • Try some Iris in pots and stagger the planting dates for continuity.

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