bulbs, garden, gardening, lifestyle, lifestyle blog, winter

Forcing Bulbs

January can generally be not that good of a time. It’s definitely my least favourite month of the whole year, it’s dark, gloomy, wet and is just full of expectations to better yourself  even if you don’t want to, and sadness that Christmas is over.

So, what is the best way to help perk yourself and the house up? Fresh blooms, sprigs of greenery and colour, and refreshing aromas. All of these can be achieved by bringing in a spot of spring into your home early by forcing bulbs. What is forcing bulbs? Well I’m no horticulturist but what I’ve understood from my readings is that by placing the bulb above, but not completely saturating it in water forces the roots down to reach the moisture in turn forcing shoots, and ultimately flowers, out the top.

You can achieve this by buying specialist forcing vases, or turning you everyday vases/mugs/dishes or any kind of  non-draining dish into an forcing vase by filling it with stones, placing your bulb half way into the stones and covering with moss or grass. You then water it so that it just touches the bottom of the bulb.

What bulbs can you force?

You can force almost any spring blooming bulb but popular ones are:

  • Daffodils
  • Amaryllis
  • Paperwhites
  • Hyacinth
  • Tulips
  • Crocus

Unless you buy an already potted and sprouting one, such as Hyacinth’s that you can get from the supermarket, that you just want to repot into your own, and with the exception of Paperwhites – you need to give your bulbs a chilling period of around 8-10 weeks on average. The easiest way to do this is when you plant your bulbs in Oct/Nov time, buy an extra bag or keep some behind and leave them in a dry, dark place, such as in a shed, or even in a fridge. You can also buy some pre-chilled bulbs, however some of the bulbs that I have used I only purchased a few weeks ago in clearance for 10p from my garden centre. They had been stored in a cold doorway and I could see them sprouting from the bulb, these looked the same as the ones I had been chilling so I gave them a go and so far seem to be growing fine (don’t tell the gardening police!). You can see in the photos below by what I mean by ‘spouting’ bulbs, I tried to picked the biggest bulbs with the most sprout, as a bigger bulbs tends to mean a bigger flower.

How to force them:

Get whatever kind of pot, container, vase, mug, teapot, dish, bowl, jar etc you want to use, but you don’t want it to have holes in the bottom!

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Fill it with your desired amount of stones.

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Take your bulb and place in the container so it’s buried about half  way in the stones. You can then bed it down with some moss that you could scrape off a brick wall or buy online. Water it so that the water just touches the bottom of the bulb. I top up the water every 3/4 days or so. Then you can place them around your home and enjoy the green whilst you wait for the colour!

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Progress after a week:

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Progress after 2 weeks:

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As you can see they’ve all shot up really well and they have all put down a lot of roots. Both of the Hyacinth’s that have bloomed were bought already growing and potted from a supermarket, but they repotted and bloomed well, and smell gorgeous! The others haven’t yet bloomed, I expect it will take around 6-8 weeks at least, but I will be sure to share photos on my Instagram and possibly update this post to show you the results. Unfortunately a forced bulb cannot then be planted outside for the next season, but if you just use leftover bulbs or get the in the clearance as they usually are in early January, then that’s not too much of a cost to have some lovely fresh blooms to help brighten up your home.

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