Winter is a time for rest in the outdoor garden for most of the United States. The trees have shed their leaves and the soil may be frozen or covered in snow. Forcing bulbs indoors can bring a hint of spring to the bleak winter landscape.
All you need to force bulbs indoors is a shallow dish or pan, your favorite spring flowering bulbs, gravel, water and a sunny window.
Select bulbs that are firm and have no blemishes or black spots. Avoid soft bulbs or bulbs that are already starting to grow.
Narcissus and tulips are the most common types of forced bulbs but almost any bulb can be used. If you choose another type of flowering bulb, be sure that it is actually a bulb and not a rhizome. Bulbs are shaped similar to onions and they have layers.
Fragrant flowering bulbs will perfume the room and brighten up the window sill with color. Narcissus and hyacinths are good choices for indoor forcing when fragrance is desired. Combining the pure white of the narcissus with the pastel colors of the hyacinths produces a striking effect.
Colorful flowering bulbs will brighten a window. Tulips are the most common for adding color. Grape hyacinths work well with their tiny purple blooms. Crocus offer a variety of colors. Plant an arrangement of different types and colors for a dramatic effect.
Place a thin layer of gravel in the dish. Arrange the bulbs so that they are not touching each other. Add more gravel so that the bottom third of the bulbs is covered by the gravel. Pour water into the dish so that the water level is just touching the bottom of the bulbs.
There is a correct way to place the bulbs in the dish. The top of a bulb is narrower than the bottom and usually forms a point. Look at the bulb, the bottom or the root end will have a callous where the roots will emerge. This is the part of the bulb to place in the water.
Sometimes the bulbs will not start to grow because their dormancy has not been broken. Many bulbs need to experience winter before they will start to bloom. To provide a winter environment, place the bulbs in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days before you attempt to force them. The cold from the refrigerator will provide the winter temperatures required for the bulbs to break dormancy.
Planting an arrangement of forced indoor bulbs will provide springtime color during the winter. Forcing fragrant spring bulbs will remind you of the garden every time you pass them. Colorful flowers will perk up a bare and dreary winter landscape. Enhance the views from your windows this winter by forcing a few spring bulbs.
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