Spring bulbs have everything they need to bloom already stored within their bulb structure. This storage allows you to force the bulbs into bloom without the need of potting soil, since the bulbs do not require access to the soil nutrients. Bulbs that grow well in water without the need for soil are hyacinth, crocus and narcissus--including both the paperwhite narcissus and the daffodil. Force the bulbs into bloom and enjoy the flowers in late winter when most plants are still dormant.
Fill a shallow dish half-full with pebbles. Use a dish that is at least 3 inches deep. Use clean landscaping pebbles, aquarium rocks or floral marbles.
Push the flat end of the bulbs into the pebbles just deep enough to support them upright. Space multiple bulbs ½ inch apart.
Fill the dish with water until the level of the water is 1/8 inch from the bottom of the bulb. Do not place the bulb directly in the water, as this causes rot.
Place hyacinth and crocus in a 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit location for eight weeks and place daffodils in this location for 12 weeks, as these bulbs require cold treatment in order to bloom. Add water as necessary to maintain the level in the dish. Paperwhite narcissus does not require cold treatment.
Move the bulbs to a 65 F room that receives bright light after cold treatment, or immediately after planting in the case of paperwhites. Replenish the water in the dish as necessary to maintain the water level. Most bulbs begin blooming within three to four weeks.