Plant fall bulbs indoors for late winter blooms!
Be ahead of the spring and get indoor blooms in late winter!
Forcing fall bulbs to bloom indoors is a simple way to enjoy color before there is any outside. Watch our YouTube video to get visual examples and quick instructions.
First time forcing bulbs? Try Daffodils or Hyacinth first.
Bulbs that work best with the water-growing method:
*smaller bulbs can work when set on top of pebbles.
Required Chill Period
Fall bulbs need to go through a chill period before they bloom. All bulbs should be in their chill period by the end of October. It’s ok if you’re late, it’ll be later than Jan/Feb that you’ll get blooms.
Common Fall Bulb Required Chill Period
Tulips 12 Weeks
Daffodils 13 Weeks
Crocus 12 Weeks
Hyacinths 12 Weeks
Snowdrops 8 Weeks
Glory of the Snow 10 Weeks
Muscari 10 Weeks
Dutch Iris 8 Weeks
You can chill them in any area that stays between 35F-45F, as long as it doesn’t go below freezing or above 50F. The fridge is the best way to get consistent temperature. If you have a cold storage room or an unheated garage that doesn’t get below freezing, that will work as well.
WARNING: If chilling in a fridge, do not store them with fresh fruits. Ethylene gas that is emitted from fruit will affect flower formation.
At the end of the chill period, you may start seeing foliage and root growth.
Tips for Growing Bulbs in Water
There are specific vases, called Bulb Vases that have an area for the bulb to rest without having to be submerged in water. These are a beautiful addition to table decor. You chill your bulb for the specified period they need and then put them in the vase. It’s that simple and a great way to play around with different varieties of bulbs.
You can also set bulbs on top of pebbles or rocks in any glass container and keep the water level up to the base of the bulb.
Make sure the bulbs are not submerged further up than the root area. Even if the water is slightly below the base of the bulb, the roots will start growing after their chilling period.
After you place your bulb in the vase or glass container, set it in bright indirect light, in the coolest room you have. Once the foliage and bud starts forming you can move it to brighter light.
Once they start blooming, you can set them anywhere you want to enjoy them.
Tips for Growing Bulbs in Soil
You can chill your bulbs in paper bags first and then pot them up or plant them in pots and then chill, if you have the space.
The potting soil needs to have excellent drainage and choose a pot with a drain hole. Plant your bulbs in a 6 inch deep pot. You can plant in shallower pots but may require a bit more watering.
Pots labeled as “Bulb Pots” are shallow and great for smaller bulbs.
The diameter will determine how many bulbs you can plant together.
“One large bulb may be placed in each 4-inch pot. Use six tulips, three hyacinths, five daffodils or 15 crocuses (or other small bulbs) in each 6-inch pot.” – Missouri Extension Office
Add enough soil mixture to fill the pot so the bulbs are placed as follows:
Hyacinths and tulips: Allow only the tip of the bulb to show above the soil line.
Daffodils: Plant deep enough that one-half of the bulb shows above the soil line.
Small bulbs (crocus, snowdrop, grape hyacinth, etc.): Plant so they will be about one inch below the soil line.
You can plant multiple varieties together as long as they get their required chill period. Purchase bulb varieties that have similar bloom times or plant all of the same variety if you want to have uniform flowering.
Keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy, even during the chill period.
Tulip tip: When planting tulips, face the flat side of the bulb outwards. This is where the main leaf is grown and it will create a uniform look.
Illustration of a pot planted with Tulip bulbs. The bulbs flat sides are facing outward. Courtesy of Missouri Extension.
Signs That Your Bulbs Are Ready After A Chilling Period
If they are planted in a pot, the roots could shoot out the bottom of the drain hole and the foliage may start growing. They are ready to come out of dormancy!
Then, place the pot in the coolest room you have with bright sun. This is mimicking the cool spring air while the buds are forming.
Once they are blooming, put them anywhere you want in your home to enjoy.
If it’s warmer and sunny, the bloom time may be reduced.
What To Do When The Blooms Fade
Keep the bulbs in bright sun so their foliage can take in energy. Once the ground is workable you can plant them outside to their required depth. This way they can continue growing until their foliage dies back a few weeks later. Keep the bulbs in the ground and they may bloom next spring for you. Give them a dose of Bulb Tone to help them take in energy for blooms the next year.
If you don’t have a yard, try planting them in outdoor pots in full sun! Once the foliage dies back try planting annuals around them to utilize the soil space. Once fall hits you can take them out or leave in the pot and simulate the chill period again as described above and try to get them to bloom.