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Growing tulips indoors

Enjoy the bright colors of spring during winter!

Forcing tulipsWinter is coming and the first snowflakes are already falling. Humbug! I’m thinking about SPRING today!

Have you ever grown tulips indoors? It’s easy! This is a process called forcing. We are literally forcing the bulbs to bloom under unnatural conditions. 

Start by selecting the finest, biggest bulbs you can find. Partially fill pots with potting soil and set the bulbs close together (see top left photo). Bulbs should not touch each other but be no more than two inches apart. Fill each pot with soil so the tips of the bulbs are exposed at the soil surface. 

Each tulip bulb has a curved side and a flat side. The largest leaf grows from the flat side. Set that side of the bulb against the inner rim of the pot and the leaf will arch over the rim—beautiful!

Label the pot with the variety name and planting date. Water the bulbs and keep them at around 40 degrees. Set the pots in a cool cellar, unheated garage or in the basement refrigerator. This will be their “winter” (much milder than the winter we will face, that’s for sure!).

After 12–14 weeks, the bulbs will start sprouting. Bring them to a cool (50–65°F) spot with bright, indirect sunlight for 1–2 weeks. Many gardeners take only a few pots out of storage at a time. This will extend the spring show.

Move the pots to a sunny window after the sprouts have reached two inches tall. The plants will bloom in two weeks.

Try forcing daffodil, crocus and hyacinth bulbs too! Enjoy the bright colors of spring—in winter! 

Photos courtesy of Tom Kalb, Thomas Knox and Lori L. Stalteri

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