Forcing bulbs in winter allows you to experience spring blooms indoors before anything is flowering outside. The water method of forcing requires no soil and minimum effort for success. Hyacinth, narcissus, crocus and tulips are all bulbs that respond well to this method of forcing. Hardy bulbs require a period of cold in order to break dormancy prior to forcing, while tender bulbs, such as paperwhite narcissus, do not require a cold period and can be planted immediately. The label on the bulbs you purchase will indicate whether the cold period is necessary or not.
Fill a shallow bowl with clean pebbles or decorative stones from a florist shop. Use a clear glass or plastic bowl so you can easily monitor water levels.
Set the bulbs on top of the pebbles with the flat sides of the bulbs facing down. Push the bulbs into the pebbles just deep enough so that they stand upright on their own. Space the bulbs 2 inches apart in the bowl.
Pour water into the bowl until the water level is just beneath the bottom of the bulbs. The roots grow into the water, but the water must not touch the bulbs as this causes rot.
Place the bulbs in a brightly lit room where they don't receive direct sunlight. Keep the temperature in the room between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refill the bowl with water as needed to keep the water at a constant level just beneath the bulbs. Forced bulbs usually bloom within six weeks.