How to Start Bulb Plants in the Late Winter

Use a large container for winter blooms. image by Kelsey Shipman


Bulbs are one of nature's great wonders. Able to survive through the winter months, bulbs are plant powerhouses and contain everything a flower needs to make a new start in the spring. Snowdrops, winter aconite, tulips and daffodils are a few favorites that gardeners plant year after year. In mild winters, bulbs can still bloom, especially when planted indoors. Follow the simple steps below to start your bulbs in late winter and prepare for a luscious garden any time of year:

Step 1

Moisten bulbs. If your bulbs are dry, soak in a sealed plastic bag with damp peat moss overnight. They should look plump and ready for planting by morning.

Step 2

Find a large container. It is essential to use a deep container for adequate root growth.

Step 3

Fill the pot half full with potting soil. Place the bulb on the soil and notice if the tip is even with the bottom rim of the pot. If so, you have the right amount of soil.

Step 4

Fill the rest of the pot with soil. Leave the tips visible above soil level.

Step 5

Water thoroughly. After the initial watering, continue to water bulbs weekly during storage.

Step 6

Place your bulbs in an old refrigerator or basement. Keep in bulbs in temperatures between 35 and 48 degrees for about 14 weeks. The pots should be in complete darkness.

Step 7

Check your bulbs. At the end of cold storage, the bulbs should have stems several inches tall and lots of visible roots. Transfer plants to a bright, cool room and wait for them to bloom.

Tips and Warnings

  • After 14 weeks in cold storage, some plants may not have produced enough roots to grow regularly. Keep them in cold storage another few weeks before moving them to sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container
  • Potting soil
  • Water
  • Basement


  • Learn 2 Grow
  • Garden Guides
Keywords: winter bulbs, force bulbs, indoor plants

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.

Photo by: Kelsey Shipman