Forced Bulbs

As winter draws near, it’s time to start forcing bulbs in your home for out-of-season blooms. Here are some of our local landscapers’ favorites.

Edited by Moe Godat


Daffodil “Tete a Tete” also known as Narcissus cyclamineus | Information provided by Jim Oldani at Timberwinds Nursery: A shallow pot with drainage hole is ideal for forcing these wonderful, small daffodils. Fill with 2 inches of potting soil and add some bulb food. Position bulbs close together but not touching and cover with potting mix so that bulbs are about half an inch below the pot rim. Gently firm soil around bulbs and water well. Cover pot with newspaper and place in a dark location at 30 to 50 degrees for about 12 weeks, check soil periodically and water as needed. Shoots should be three to four inches tall before moving into the light. To force the flower, place the pot in indirect light at about 60 to 65 degrees for three to four days, then place it in full sun until blossoms open in approximately three to five weeks. Make sure to keep the soil moist! After about 16 to 17 weeks after planting, these 7-inch tall daffodils will sport a bright yellow flower. Tete a Tete is great for its compact size, profuse flower and bright yellow color; it’s also great for both forcing and displaying in a garden bed, not to mention it’s a cheery addition to any window sill!

Water: Water well when first planting, then periodically as needed Location + Light Place in a dark location for 12 weeks Forcing tips Place bulbs close together, but make sure they aren’t touching. Plant about half an inch beneath the soil Total time needed 16 to 17 weeks

With one of the few true blue flowers in nature and with a heady perfume, “Blue Jacket” Hyacinth tops my list of favorite bulbs. Its rich, blue flowers add intense color to the landscape and containers. Hyacinth can easily be forced for timed blooming, making them ideal for holiday displays. They bloom about six weeks after planting. Ann Lapides, Sugar Creek Gardens.

Our favorite forced bulb is the “Amadeus” Amaryllis. The large, double petals of their white blossoms are streaked with red accents. They make a beautiful holiday showpiece when forced indoors during the winter months. These long-lasting blooms make a festive gift that is easy for even a novice plant lover. Sarah Riley, Bowood Farms.

Paperwhite, or Narcissus, is one of the most foolproof flower bulbs to force. Planting forced paperwhites is so simple, even my aunt Betty could do it, and she was blind! Also...the novice (or your kids!) can easily accomplish paperwhite bulb forcing. Many varieties of paperwhites are available, ranging from all white flowers, which are my favorite, to those composed of both light yellow and white. The fragrance, well, even Aunt Betty could find them! Scott Hepper, award-winning Master Floral Designer.

Grow your own saffron! These beautiful purple crocuses will flower inside and offer you pure saffron on each flower's stigmas. Bulbs can be cooled in fridge and forced to bloom out of season inside the home. David Sherwood, Sherwood’s Forest Nursery.