How do you force spring-flowering bulbs indoors?


How do you force spring-flowering bulbs indoors?


Spring-flowering bulbs that can be forced indoors include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses.  While many bulb varieties can be forced, best results are obtained by selecting varieties recommended for forcing.  To enjoy spring-flowering bulbs in winter, gardeners must begin the forcing process in late summer or early fall.  Gardeners need good quality bulbs, a well-drained potting mix, and containers with drainage holes in the bottom. 


Begin by partially filling the container (pot) with potting soil.  Then place the bulbs on the soil surface.  Adjust the soil level until the tops of the bulbs are even with or slightly below the rim of the container.  Place additional potting soil around the bulbs.  However, don’t cover the bulbs completely.  Allow the tops (noses of the bulbs) to stick above the potting soil.  After potting, water each container thoroughly. 

Chilling Period

In order to bloom, spring-flowering bulbs must be exposed to temperatures of 40 to 45°F for 12 to 16 weeks.  Possible storage sites include the refrigerator, root cellar, or an outdoor trench.  During cold storage, water the bulbs regularly and keep them in complete darkness. 

Remove from the Cold

Once the cold requirement has been met, begin to remove the potted bulbs from cold storage.  For a succession of bloom, remove pots from storage at 10 to 14 day intervals.  Place the bulbs in a cool (50 to 60°F) location that receives low to medium light.  After 4 or 5 days, move the plants to a warmer (60 to 70°F) area that receives bright light.  Keep the potting soil evenly moist during the forcing period.  Flowering should occur in 3 to 4 weeks. 

More detailed information on forcing spring bulbs can be found in this article: How to Force Spring-Flowering Bulbs Indoors

Last updated on
January 31, 2023