How to Plant Bulbs Indoors in Autumn


As autumn approaches, the leaves on trees and shrubs change colors and the flowers stop blooming. You may wish for the bright blooms of spring. You can create an indoor garden of potted bulbs that will grace your home with bright flowers in autumn and winter. Choose among varieties of amaryllis, tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, lilies or paper whites. For autumn blooming, you may have to purchase from online nurseries.

Step 1

Choose containers that are at least twice as tall as the bulbs. The most important point in choosing pots is that they have drainage holes so water can escape. Otherwise, choose pots made from any material, such as plastic, ceramic or terra cotta.

Step 2

Scatter stones, gravel or broken pottery along the bottom of the pot, covering the drainage holes. This will prevent soil from washing out of the holes.

Step 3

Pour commercial potting soil into the pot. You need enough so the bulb tips reach the top of the planting container.

Step 4

Set the bulbs, pointed side up, into the soil. Space them so there is about a half inch between them.

Step 5

Cover the bulbs with additional potting soil until it is a half inch from the top of the container. You should see just the tips of the bulbs at the top.

Step 6

Place planted bulbs in a cool location, 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, for 12 to 16 weeks. All the flower bulbs mentioned in the introduction, except paper whites, need a "chilling period" before they can bloom. The garage, basement or other protected location are good options, as long as the bulbs don't freeze. You can also place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If you can't get the bulbs early enough for them to bloom in autumn, ask for pre-chilled bulbs so you can skip the chilling period.

Step 7

Move the bulb containers to a warmer location of 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, for about five days, with low to medium light.

Step 8

Water the potted bulbs completely, until the water comes out of the drainage holes. Then, place them in a warmer area, about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, with bright light. You'll know to move them when you will see green shoots starting out of the top of the bulbs. Bulbs can withstand slightly warmer temperatures, as long as they are kept away from drafts or heating elements.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant containers
  • Stones
  • Commercial potting soil
  • Bulbs


  • Iowa State University Horticultural Guide: Forcing Flower Bulbs
  • The Garden Helper: How to Force Bulbs
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