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How to Force Flower Bulbs

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017
Brilliant yellow daffodils

Nothing enlivens the inside of your home during the cold months more than a spring flowers. Forcing bulbs involves tricking the bulb into believing it's time to bloom after the winter. Forcing flower bulbs requires simple tools and a little patience as you wait for the first color to appear. Daffodils, crocus, hyacinth and paper whites can all be forced.

Fill an empty plant pot two-thirds full with potting soil. Keep the soil loose. Be sure to use new potting soil so the bulb can receive maximum nutrients. Mix bulb food into the soil to help the bulb thrive. Add water to the soil until it becomes evenly moist throughout.

Press your fingers into the soil to make indentations for bulb placement. Leave a small amount of space between each indentation so the bulbs won't touch, and avoid the edge of the planter.

Press the wide base of the bulb into the soil. The tip or nose of the bulb should be pointing upward (it looks like a little plant shoot or nub). You can place the bulbs close together but without touching each other or the pot edges.

Cover the bulbs lightly with potting soil, leaving the nub or shoot just barely exposed.

Water the pot again until the soil is thoroughly moist. Add more potting soil if the soil settles too much.

Place the pot in a cool, dark room or area that remains above freezing. You can also place the pots in the refrigerator, since this offers constant cool temperatures and little or no light. Wait 12 weeks to see the sprouting of shoots.

Move the pot to a slightly warmer area with a small amount of light. For example, move the pot from the refrigerator into a cool, low-light area of an unheated garage. Gradually move the plant to warmer areas as it grows to encourage long-lasting flowers. Water as needed when the soil dries out.

Move the forced bulbs into your home to a slightly cool spot to encourage blooming. Avoid full sun to prevent yellowing of the foliage. Make sure to water the plants during the growth and blooming stage.

Allow the foliage and flowers to die completely before you remove the bulb. Continue watering the plant, and then transplant it into your garden. Bulbs should only be forced one time for best results.


Things You Will Need

  • Potting soil
  • Containers with drainage holes
  • Bulb food
  • Bulbs