Step by Step Forcing Bulbs
Throughout the years, I have forced a variety of bulbs in a variety of pots.
- The first step is selection. Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, crocus and other smaller or “minor” bulbs can be forced. Experience has taught me that the earlier cultivars of tulips and daffodils force best. Either plastic or clay pots will work.
This year I am forcing two pots of bulbs. One pot is ‘Miss Saigon’ hyacinths, and the other is ‘Delph’ blue hyacinths.
- Next, I select a rather large plastic pot, probably 10-12 inches in diameter. Make sure the pot has drainage hole(s) on the bottom. Line the pot with several layers of inexpensive coffee filters, then fill half full with potting soil mix.
- As usual, this year I’ve forced fived bulbs per pot, pointed side up, with the bulbs not touching. Place enough potting soil into the pot to fill it, which will bury the bulbs by a couple of inches.
What is Layering Bulbs?
In addition, I am trying something new this year. I placed Siberian Squill, Scilla siberica, in both pots after they were filled. Place them on top of the pot, pointed side up, then gently press them into the pot with your fingers until the very tip is at the surface of the potting soil. This process is called layering, and I’m anxious to see how it works. Water thoroughly as the potting soil will be dry.
Forced bulbs require a cooling period, so they are sitting on a patio table. When the temperature is predicted to go below 28 degrees, I bring them into a cool porch for the rest of this cool time a garage will also work well). In this area, the temperature averages about 50 degrees, and never gets below 40. Roots form first, so don’t look for sprouts for a couple of months.
Should I water bulbs being forced?
Yes, keep the soil moist, but avoid over-watering. A shallow saucer at the base of each pot will help insure that excess water is drained. Dump the extra water on any neighboring plants that need a drink, and wait for results. After sprouts appear, bring the pots indoors so that growth and flowering occurs at a faster rate. Then, Enjoy!
Anything that can be done to help the winter pass more quickly and cheerfully is appreciated. Therefore, forcing spring bulbs is uplifting, as well as fun and easy.