As the weather changes and temperatures drop, I think of the winter ahead. I “need” a bit of green and color during those long, white winter months. One way to get this is by forcing or “tricking” flowering bulbs to bloom in the Winter. The easiest bulbs to work with are Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus. Those two don’t require vernalization (a chill period) to get them to bloom; they only require temperatures in the low to mid-70s. Of those bulbs requiring vernalization, the easiest to force are crocus, hyacinths, muscari (grape hyacinths), and mini daffodils. Standard daffodils can be a little more difficult and tulips can be even trickier. All of these bulbs require chilling in a cool, dark space where the temperature is below 50 degrees, but above 32 degrees. The number of days they need to chill varies by the type of bulb. After the proper chill period, the bulbs must be gradually “woken up” over a number of weeks before they bloom. The process mimics warming temperatures that occur in Spring.

There are three ways to force your bulb: Grow them over water in forcing jars or in potting soil or gravel. The container dictates the planting method. Hyacinth forcing jars are hourglass-shaped containers that allow you to grow various bulb types. Fill the bottom part of the vase with water for the roots, and then set the bulb on top; the shape of the container prevents the bulb from falling into the water. When growing bulbs in a pot, choose a container that is twice as deep as the size of the bulb. This means using a much smaller container for crocus than amaryllis. Make sure the container has ample drainage holes.

I recommend starting with the easiest options for your first attempt. There is nothing like success to make you feel good and have those beautiful blooms to brighten your winter days. For more information on Forcing Bulbs you can visit the following websites:

Growing bulbs indoors | UMN Extension

Forcing Bulbs for Indoor Bloom |

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