Amaryllis and paperwhites are familiar favorite bulbs to enjoy during the holidays. They have been programmed to bloom and require no forcing! Amaryllis and paperwhites make great gifts and add color to your home for the holiday season.

To enjoy Spring Bulbs indoors this winter, you must put in a little work and plan ahead. Those pots of brightly colored forced bulbs are a welcome sight in January or February. What better way to enjoy some color after the holiday season has passed and cheer up a long, cold winter, reminding us of impending spring?

The forcing process begins NOW!

Forcing Bulbs in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Count backwards from the desired bloom date the number of weeks required for bloom plus the number of weeks required for cooling. This is the planting date. To use your forced bulbs as a blooming Christmas gift, you will have to plant in September.
  2. Select a container that has drainage holes and is at least twice as tall as the unplanted bulb. There is an exception for paperwhites, amaryllis, or hyacinths that you plan to grow in stone. These should be placed in a container without drainage holes.
  3. Mix a good bulb fertilizer into your potting soil according to directions on the package.
  4. Fill enough of your container with potting soil so that when the bulb is placed on top of the soil the tip of the bulb sits slightly above the lip.
  5. Place your bulbs on top of the soil. Keep them close without touching each other or the container.
  6. Continue to fill the area between the bulbs with soil. Fill until slightly below the lip.
  7. Water the soil gently, allowing excess to drain.
  8. Refrigerate potted bulbs for the appropriate amount of time. Check frequently and water as necessary to keep the soil moist.
  9. Gradually acclimate planted bulbs to a warm, bright location when their required cooling time has been completed. Move back out of direct sun and into a cooler location when the bulbs finally flower to prolong the blooms.
  10. Rotate container frequently to produce straight stems.

Post Bloom

Forced bulbs cannot be forced a second time. Paperwhites will never bloom again and should be discarded after forcing. It is unlikely for tulips to bloom again in the ground. Daffodils and hyacinths are worth planting if you want to hang onto them until the gardening season returns. However, it is unlikely that they will bloom their first year in the ground. Never fear! They will eventually return to their former beauty and regular flowering schedule. If you choose to replant after flowering, cut back flower stems and place your containers back in full sun. Continue to water until the foliage dies back naturally. When the foliage is completely spent, place containers in a cool, dry place until the bulbs may be safely planted into the garden.