Forcing Spring Bulbs for Winter Blooms


A breath of spring sunshine in the form of flowering bulbs is welcome during the barren winter months. In order to force bulbs to bloom indoors, carefully planning for timed results must take place ahead of time. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, paper whites, and crocus are among the most popular forced blooms for the indoor gardener.

Step 1

Choose a container with a drainage hole. Shallow containers work best, but any material from clay to plastic will do.

Step 2

Fill the pot with a mixture of equal parts perlite, spaghnum moss, and soil. Leave the top 1/4 of the pot empty to allow planting room.

Step 3

Plant the bulbs loosely in the soil, as their root systems will need space to establish. Tulip bulbs should be planted pointed end up, with the flattened side against the edge of the container. Crocus should be planted deeper, so that their heads are completely covered by soil. Fill around the potted bulbs at the surface with media, but allow the tops of the hyacinth, tulip and daffodil bulbs to peek out of the soil. The Clemson University Cooperative Extension experts suggest that in a 6-inch pot, 15 crocus, six tulips or six daffodil bulbs will fit snugly, while only three hyacinth should be placed in the same size pot.

Step 4

Water the bulbs until the media is moist. Store the container in a dark, dry place at a constant 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A refrigerator works well for this purpose, or garage, if your outdoor temperatures remain low enough. Daffodil and crocus require 15 weeks of cooling, tulips require 15 to 17 weeks, and hyacinths require 11-14. Keep the potting media moist during this time, but not soggy. Label containers with the type of bulb and the date for cool storage removal.

Step 5

Bring the containers indoors after the cooling period is completed. Store in a cool place with indirect sunlight, and water well. When green shoots will begin to emerge from the bulb tops, move into a sunnier, warmer location and expect blooms within two to three weeks, up to four at the most.

Step 6

Move pots with flowers to indirect light and store them in a cool room at night to extend the blooming period. Keep the potting media moist during flowering.

Things You'll Need

  • Spring bulbs
  • Pot
  • Trowel
  • Spaghnum moss
  • Perlite
  • Soil


  • University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program, Factsheet: Forcing Bulbs
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Forcing Bulbs Indoors
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Bloom (PDF)
Keywords: forcing bulbs, growing bulbs indoors, bulb forcing tips

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.