How to Grow Flower Bulbs in Water in the Winter


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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Tips and Warnings

  • Most water-forced bulbs are not suitable for planting again. Discard the bulbs after blooming is complete and start with new bulbs next year.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowl
  • Pebbles


  • Purdue Extension Office: Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Bloom
Keywords: forcing flower bulbs, bulbs in water, forcing water method

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.