How to Plant Bulbs to Force Bloom


Forcing bulbs to bloom when you want them to is especially popular with indoor home gardeners, who plant the bulbs in containers so they can enjoy the flowers indoors during the long winter months. In fact, forcing can only be done in containers due to the warm temperatures necessary to fool the bulbs into thinking it is spring. Most spring bulbs can be forced to bloom early, according to information published by the University of Rhode Island, including tulips, paper-white narcissus and the fragrant hyacinth.

Step 1

Choose the right bulbs and container. For the best blooms, choose the largest bulbs. Containers should have drainage holes and a water-catch tray.

Step 2

Use a "soil-less" planting medium. These contain equal amounts of soil, perlite and spaghnum moss. Do not use potting soil or soil from your garden, as these will not drain quickly enough or well enough for forcing bulbs, according to information published by the University of Rhode Island.

Step 3

Fill the container two-thirds full of the planting medium. Gently set the bulbs in a cluster in the middle of the medium. The flat part of the bulb should be resting on the planting medium, with the tips pointing upward. Three bulbs are commonly used.

Step 4

Fill in around the bulbs with the planting medium, but leave the tips of the bulbs uncovered. Water well.

Step 5

Place the pot in a cool location. Bulbs must have a three-month chilling period before they will bloom, according to information published by the University of Rhode Island. An unheated garage works well, or even a refrigerator. Keep the soil moist throughout the chilling period, but not soggy.

Step 6

Bring the pot back inside to warm conditions. Look at the drainage holes to see if you can see extensive root growth. Water thoroughly, then place the pot in a location in your home that is cool (not in the sunlight) until you see the bulbs sprout.

Step 7

Move the pot to a warmer, brighter location, such as near a sunny window. Do not suddenly blast the bulbs with large amounts of direct sunlight, however, as this can cause them to not bloom at all, according to information published by the University of Rhode Island.

Tips and Warnings

  • Forcing is hard on bulbs, and most do not bloom again after being forced, so do not try to use the bulbs again or plant them outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil-less planting medium
  • Pot with drainage holes
  • Watering tool


  • University of Rhode Island: Forcing Spring Bulbs
Keywords: force bloom bulbs, forcing bulbs, plant container bulbs

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.