For many gardeners, waiting through the winter to grow plants and start next season’s garden can be frustrating. While houseplants can offer some relief to itchy green thumbs, many plants do not bloom under the low light conditions of winter. Luckily, there’s another option when it comes to growing indoors. Many spring-blooming flower bulbs can be “forced” to bloom indoors during this time.
Forcing refers to tricking the bulbs into growing before their counterparts outdoors have even broken the soil surface. Not only does this offer a beautiful pop of color on cold days, but can also help growers tame their need to get their hands dirty. Here are 7 plants that can be tricked into early flowering:
1. Tulips – Among one of the most popular spring bulbs, tulips can be forced with the help of cold treatment. To force these bulbs, simply plant in a pot and store in a cold location for at least 12 weeks. This period of time may vary depending upon the variety, so make certain to always check supplier packaging. After chilling, remove the pot and place indoors in a warm sunny window. For a more elegant display, tulips may also be forced in a soilless vase.
2. Hyacinths – Insanely fragrant, hyacinths are also a very popular option for forcing indoors. Options for forcing hyacinth include the use of bulb vases, as well as container plantings. Store bulb vase or container in a cold (frost free) location for several weeks, most commonly at least twelve. After completion of chill period, move indoors to a sunny window.
3. Amaryllis – Known for their large red flowers, amaryllis bulbs are a popular option for forcing bloom during the holiday season. To force, bulbs are planted into a pot and placed in a sunny location indoors. Since these plants are native to tropical regions, they do not require any cold treatment.
4. Crocus – Like many other small flower bulbs, crocus flowers are ideal for forcing indoors. To plant, prepare a container and provide at least 8-12 weeks of chill hours. After the chill period is complete, move the container to warm, sunny window.
5. Dutch Iris – Though many may be familiar with their tall counterparts, dwarf Dutch iris are an exceptional choice for planting indoors. Their diminutive size is well suited in a mixed planting of forced bulbs. Simply plant into a container and chill for at least 12-15 weeks (depending upon the variety). After the chill period, move the container to a warm space to resume growth.
6. Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) – While not as large or fancy as other bulbs, many growers choose to force grape hyacinths in containers. Mass container plantings of these bulbs can serve as a bright indoor accent when forced. Muscari bulbs require at least 8-12 weeks of chill before being moved to warm location.
7. Paperwhites – Much like amaryllis, paperwhites are another very popular choice. Unlike daffodils (which can also be forced), paperwhites do not require a chill period in order to be forced to bloom. To plant, simply place in a container filled with potting soil and place in a warm location indoors.