How Do I Force Tulip Bulbs?


Forcing bulbs is the process of encouraging spring bulbs to bloom in winter before they normally would outdoors. Forced bulbs bring spring color into the home during the cold months, allowing you to enjoy your favorite flowers. Tulips are readily available bulbs that are suitable for forcing. The bulbs are available at most garden centers in the fall, and varieties that work well for forcing indoors are usually marked as such on the bulb package.

Step 1

Fill a 6-inch diameter flower pot three-quarters full with a soil-less potting mix. Make your own mix by combining one part sphagnum moss, one part compost and one part vermiculite.

Step 2

Set tulip bulbs inside the pot, arranging them so the flat side of the bulb faces the wall of the pot while the pointed side faces inward. Space the bulbs 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Fill in the pot with more soil until only the top one-third of the bulbs are above the soil level.

Step 3

Water the soil in the pot until the excess moisture just begins to drain out of the bottom. Place the watered bulbs outside or in a room with a temperature less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 17 weeks.

Step 4

Bring the pots indoors after the cold period is complete and water again to moisten the soil. Place the pots in a cool room in bright, indirect light and continue to water as needed.

Step 5

Move the pots to a warm, sunny area once the tulips begin sending up leaves. Tulips bloom within two to three weeks of being brought indoors. Continue to water the tulips throughout the blooming period.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not bring tulips in from the cold and immediately place them in a warm room. This may prevent flower bud formation.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Soil-less potting mix
  • Tulip bulbs


  • University of Rhode Island: Forcing Bulbs
Keywords: forcing tulip bulbs, spring bulbs, pot grown tulips

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.