Indoor Forcing

Indoor forcing is a way of tricking a bulb into blooming (indoors) at a time when it normally wouldn't bloom (if planted outdoors). For example, you can "force" hyacinths to bloom in mid-winter, rather than early spring.

For bulbs which normally grow in cooler zones, you need to chill them before potting them up. This fools them into thinking winter has passed, and it's now spring. Other bulbs don't need any chilling time. Thus, some bulbs are quicker and easier to force than others. What follows is a table of bulbs recommended for forcing, in order of ease of forcing:

Bulbs recommended for Forcing:

Name Weeks of chilling Weeks to bloom Notes
1. Paperwhitenone 3 - 5Extremely easy to force: grows in soil or gravel; has wonder fragrance
Latin name: Narcissus tazetta
2. Amaryllisnone 5 - 10Very easy to force; can be planted in early November for Christmas blooming, or later, for early spring blooming
Latin name: Hippeastrum
3. Hyacinth10 - 14 2 - 3Wonderful fragrance; can be forced in special "hyacinth" vases using only water
Click here to see some suggested varieties
4. Giant Dutch Crocus 14 - 15 2Latin name: Crocus vernus
Click here to see some suggested varieties
5. Snow Crocus14 - 15 2 - 3 Latin name: Crocus chrysanthus
6. Muscari 13 - 16 2 - 3Common name: Grape Hyacinth; pot a large number in one pot, as they are very small
7. Dwarf Iris12 -15 2 - 3 Pleasant fragrance; easy to force, but need very good drainage; don't hold bulbs too long before potting
Latin name: iris reticulata
8. Scilla tubergeniana 12 -15 2 - 3not always easy to find commercially
9. Siberian Squill 15 2 - 3 Latin name: Scilla siberica
10. Snowdrop 15 2pot a large number in one pot, as they are very small
Latin name: Galanthus
11. Daffodil15 -17 2 - 3Only certain varieties of Daffodil are suitable for forcing, some of which are fragrant
Latin name: Narcissus
12. Tulip14 - 20 2 - 3Only certain varieties of Tulip are suitable for forcing, a few of which are fragrant

The following links will provide you with the basics of forcing:

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Last modified: October 12, 2008