Potted Bulb Gardens: Growing Flowering Bulbs Indoors

Potted Flowering Bulbs
indoor bulbs
(Image credit: Ninel Roshchina)

Everybody loves bulbs that bloom outdoors every spring, but it’s possible to enjoy spring flowers a little earlier, even if you don’t have a garden. The process of getting bulbs to bloom indoors, known as “forcing,” is easy, but timing is everything. Most spring-blooming bulbs need a period of cold weather, although a few will bloom without a chilling period. Read on to learn about indoor bulb gardening.

Potted Bulb Gardens: Flower Bulbs You Can Grow Indoors

Flower bulbs you can grow indoors, with a chilling period, include:

Bulbs that grow without chilling are limited to paperwhites and amaryllis. Information about growing these flowering bulbs indoors is included below.

When to Plant Potted Bulb Gardens

Most bulbs bloom indoors in 12 to 16 weeks, so they are planted in fall or early winter, depending on when you want blooms. For instance, if you’re hoping for blooms around the year’s end, get the bulbs planted by mid-September. Bulbs planted in mid-October bloom in February, and those planted in mid-November show up in early spring.

How to Make an Indoor Bulb Garden

Select a container with a drainage hole. Ensure the pot is deep enough to allow at least 2 inches (5 cm.) of space beneath each bulb.

Fill the pot with loose potting mix. Plant bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips with the tip of the bulbs poking above the soil, but snowdrops, crocus, and grape hyacinth should be buried. It’s okay to crowd the bulbs or you can leave a little space between them.

Water well until moisture drips through the drainage hole, then place the pot in a cool spot with temps between 35 and 50 degrees F. (2-10 C.), such as a garage or basement.

Label each container so you’ll know when to bring the bulbs back indoors or mark the dates on your calendar. Check the container regularly and water if the top inch (2.5 cm.) of potting mix feels dry.

Bring the bulbs indoors at the designated time and store the containers in a room with dim light and temps of 60 to 65 degrees F. (15-18 C.). Move the bulbs into normal room temperatures and bright light when the shoots begin to turn green, generally about a week.

Move the containers into indirect sunlight when the buds begin to show color. Keeping the blooms out of bright sunlight will help them last longer.

Bulbs That Don’t Require Chilling

Paperwhites bloom about three to five weeks after planting, while amaryllis bulbs flower in six to eight weeks. Before planting, fill a shallow pan with a little lukewarm water. Set the bulbs in the water and let the roots soak for a few hours.

Fill a pot with loose potting mix and plant the bulbs with the top two-thirds of each bulb showing, then tamp the potting mix lightly around the bulbs. Water the potting mix until it’s evenly damp, then place the container in a warm, sunny spot.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.