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How to Grow Tulip Bulbs in Water

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

When snow is on the ground and the days are dark and cold, brightly colored tulips on the windowsill are a reminder that warm days are on the horizon and spring is just around the corner. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to force tulips to bloom in water. Tulips will take about four months to bloom, so start the project in October for February blooms.

Fill a glass container about 1/3 of the way with glass marbles or decorative rocks. Any type of container such as a vase or canning jar will work, but clear glass will enable you to watch the roots develop.

Set the tulip bulb on top of the marbles or stones, with the pointed end up. Add a few more marbles or rocks so that the tulip bulb is surrounded but not covered.

Pour fresh water into the container. The water shouldn't touch the bulb, but it should be very close, so that the roots will grow into the water.

Put the container in a dark, cool room where the temperature is between 40 and 45 degrees F. Check the container occasionally and if necessary, add water to bring the level up. Be sure the bulb doesn't actually sit in the water, because the bulb will rot.

Move the container to a sunny window sill after it's been in the dark for a minimum of 12 weeks. If you can leave it for 16 weeks, the blooms will be even larger. At that time, bring it out of the dark, and the tulips will bloom within a month.


Things You Will Need

  • Tulip bulb
  • Glass container
  • Marbles or decorative rocks

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.