Sunday, December 16, 2018

Forcing Tulip Bulbs In December To Bloom Indoors Come Spring!

If you're like me, you probably will be longing for the sight of some cheerful flowering plants in your home by mid-February into March. My weakness happens to be tulips!
Yes, I could wait until this coming March or April and buy a pot or 2 of already flowering tulips from my local supermarket, but I decided  ... what the heck! I'll be adventurous!  You can, too! All you need are some tulip bulbs, containers for planting, potting soil, paper or mesh bags, and a cool dark place to put your bulbs. Lightly water them once a week, and at the end of their chilling period, bring them out into bright, indirect light and you should have blooms in 2-3 weeks.
On December 6th, I bought some marked-down tulip bulbs ... filled 2 pots (3-4 inches deep) with moist potting soil and barely pressed the bulbs in on the surface of  the soil. Then I placed the pots on a shelf in our unheated garage. During the winter our garage stays between 35-45 degrees which is perfect for chilling tulip bulbs. Keep an eye on the temperature. You don't want your bulbs to freeze. Since the bulbs also require complete darkness at this time, I also covered the top of the pots with a cardboard box to prevent any light from coming through. The only thing I have to do is remember to lightly water the bulbs once a week.  I chose to use my unheated garage to chill my potted up tulip bulbs. That's just one way of doing it.                                                          
Another way you can chill your tulip bulbs is to store them in the fruit or vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. You can store them either potted in soil, or store just the bulbs themselves in a partially open paper bag or in a mesh bag. Word of caution. Do not store them with apples. The fruit contains a gas that will kill the flowers in your bulbs. Once the bulbs have chilled, pot them up,  leave them uncovered, and put them in a cool place for about 2 weeks. Then place the pots in a warm spot with bright, but indirect light.
You can also chill your bulbs in a cool dark spot in a basement or closet.  In this way you still can choose to either pot them up or store them in paper or mesh bags. 
Now, how long do you have to chill your tulip bulbs you're wondering? Well, my research says 12-16 weeks of chilling seems to be the norm. Most information sources advise that you start chilling your bulbs in the beginning of October for indoor late winter, early spring blooms. BUT ... BUT ... I just love when there's a "BUT" ... some sources say if you start chilling your bulbs in the beginning of December it will only take 8-10 weeks til bloom! For me, that would be around the end of February. Wouldn't that be nice!

  It is not too late to start now! Some of the big box stores still have hugely discounted spring flowering bulbs available. Choose whatever method you like to grow them. You could have tulips blooming inside in March!

P.S.
I'll let you all know how this turns out in a few months!



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