How to Force Bulbs in the Spring


Forcing bulbs is a technique used by many gardeners to grow bulbs indoors any time year. If you obtained your bulbs in the spring and you want to begin to grow them right away, forcing bulbs may be the right choice for you. If you have summer tender bulbs such as dahlias and irises, you can plant them outdoors and they will bloom in the summer. However, if you have spring bulbs and miss the cold period they need to grow, you can force them indoors to enjoy them this year.

Step 1

Select your container. Use a regular plastic or clay planting pot with drainage holes on the bottom. The pot should be at least 8 to 12 inches deep.

Step 2

Fill the pot ¾ of the way with soil. Use equal parts of spaghnum moss, potting soil and perlite (or vermiculite). You can also use potting mix labeled "soil-less."

Step 3

Place the bulbs close together on top of the soil. Do not space as you would outdoors. Most bulbs can be planted about an inch under the soil so add more of the soil mix to do this. Tulips and daffodils (narcissus) should be planted so that the tips stick out of the soil. Water the bulbs so that the soil is evenly moist.

Step 4

Place the pots in a cool location. Since it is spring, the best place to do this is in a refrigerator. If it is still cold outside, you can stick the pots in your unheated garage, attic, basement or crawlspace.

Step 5

Wait about three months and during that time, check on your pot every week to be sure the soil has not dried out. Look through the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. If you see roots, it's time to bring the plants out of the cold.

Step 6

Place the pots in an area of your home that is out of the sunlight. Choose the coolest location of your home if possible. After a couple of weeks, you should see new growth emerge out of the soil. Keep the bulbs evenly moist at this time.

Step 7

Move the plants to a sunny location.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Potting soil
  • Spaghum moss
  • Perlite or vermiculite
  • Water


  • University of Rhode Island Extension
Keywords: force bulbs, force spring bulbs, growing bulbs indoors

About this Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.