Posts Tagged ‘How to force bulbs indoors’


A Lesson in Forced Blub Flowering

January 17, 2011


Indoor blooms don’t just happen. As you can see in the photo, my Narcissus Paperwhites are flowerless. This was my first experience with indoor bulb forcing, which I shared with my readers in November. You can review my original posts by clicking on these three links:

Day 8 of forcing Narcissus Paperwhites Indoors

Indoor Bulb Forcing: Part I

Indoor Bulb Forcing: Part II

At first, my Paperwhites flourished. Two buds burst into tiny white flowers and bloomed for nearly three weeks. I was ecstatic. Everyday I watched for more blossoms with eager anticipation. Buds continued to form. As the foliage grew, my excitement heightened because I looked forward to a happy plant covered in florets. Then the flowers as well as the buds died. I was devastated and couldn’t understand what happened because the bulbs were healthy and firm. It was obvious I had failed them, and I wanted to know why.

Since I couldn’t find the answer online, I called a local nursery for some practical advice. The owner answered the phone and said, “I don’t know, but come in and buy ours. Our bulbs would never do that.”  

Frustrated, I sought help elsewhere. Here’s what had I learned:

“Narcissus bloom when it is cold out. They like it cold and wet. They usually yellow when the air is too dry, and soil too dry.” –Julie Morehouse, Horticultural Advisor/Garden Coach, Stockton, CA | 209-598-4707 

“You under-watered, once the bulbs flower the water evaporates quickly. They need more water to keep blooming.” –Bill Renfro, owner of Plants and Produce Retail Nursery, Lodi, CA | 209-727-0323

BINGO! I finally knew what I did wrong and how to avoid failure next time. My potted Narcissus sat in a warm, dry room. I was so concerned about over watering, the soil was barely moist, and with too many holiday festivities, I probably let it dehydrate more than once. Although my oversight wasn’t costly, I was disappointed with the results of my neglect.

If you are thinking of forcing indoor flowers, whatever variety bulb you choose, benefit from my mistakes—research environment, water needs and other growing requirements for successful indoor bulb flowering. Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre



Indoor Bulb Forcing: Part I

November 8, 2010

This is my first bulb-forcing kit. For five dollars, I thought it was worth buying. The idea of bulb forcing is to brighten the indoors of an otherwise dull winter season with bright blooms and fragrant scents.

The term “forcing” means to cause a plant to sprout, grow, and flower out of its natural environment and season. I didn’t have to buy a kit to do this but it sure seemed handy to have everything ready. However, as I looked through the contents (four Narcissus Paperwhite bulbs, one coir disk, and one pot), I noticed three problems:  No saucer, no drainage holes in the pot and the bulbs have sprouted.

All plants, even bulbs, need good drainage. The instructions don’t mention this which could saturate the bulbs and kill them. When buying bulbs, they should be firm and without sprouts. Curious about the results of sprouted and non-sprouted bulbs, I purchased four single Narcissus Paperwhite bulbs. Then, I decided to use one of my clay pots with drainage holes, and planted the non-sprouted bulbs in the center.

The kit instructions said to place the coir disk in the pot and add 3.5 cups of warm water. Once the water is completely absorbed by the coir disk, loosen the soil. Then press the bulbs nose up into the soil until just the tops stick out. Walter well and keep moist but not wet. Keep in a well-lit area out of direct sunlight. It should bloom in six weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed, and I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Note:  Some bulb-forcing kits come with decorative pots (no drainage holes, though), for about ten dollars.

Tomorrow, look for Indoor Bulb Forcing:  Part II, for instructions on how to do this from scratch.

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