By Heather Rhoades
Forcing tulip bulbs is on the minds of many gardeners when the weather outside is cold and fierce. Growing tulips in pots is easy, with a little planning. Keep reading to learn more about how to force tulip bulbs in the winter.
How to Force Tulip Bulbs
Forcing tulips starts with choosing tulips bulbs to force. Tulips are commonly not sold “ready to force” so you most likely will need to prepare them. In the early fall, when spring bulbs are being sold, purchase some tulip bulbs for forcing. Make sure that they are firm and do not have any blemishes. Keep in mind that larger tulip bulbs will result in larger tulip flowers.
Once you have bought your tulip bulbs for forcing, place them in a cool, dark place for 12-16 weeks to be “chilled.” The average temperature should be between 35 to 45 degrees F. Many people chill their bulbs in the vegetable drawer in their fridge, in an unheated but attached garage, or even in shallow trenches near the foundation of their homes.
After chilling, you are ready to start growing tulips indoors. Choose a container with good drainage. Fill the container with soil to about 3-4 inches below the rim of the container. The next step in forcing tulip bulbs, is to place them just on top of the soil, pointy end up. Fill the container with soil around the tulip bulbs to the top of the container. The very tips of the tulip bulbs should still show through the top of the soil.
After this, for forcing tulips, place the pots in a cool, dark place. A basement or unheated garage is fine. Water lightly about once a week. Once leaves appear, bring the tulip bulbs out and place them in a location where they will get bright, but indirect light.
Your forced tulips should flower in 2-3 weeks after being brought into the light.
Forced Tulips Indoor Care
After forcing tulips, they are cared for much like a houseplant. Water the tulips when the soil is dry to the touch. Make sure that your forced tulips remain out of direct light and drafts.
With a little preparation, you can start growing tulips in pots indoors. By forcing tulips in your home, you add a little bit of spring to your winter home.