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Fool Bulbs into Blooming Early This Spring

Mar 05, 2018 03:55PM ● Published by Linda Ditch

It may be March, but spring still feels too far away. It’s possible to have blooms in the winter to satisfy those flower craving. Bulbs can be forced into an early bloom fairly easily.

The bulbs will need some “chill time” to fool them into blooming. The amount of time depends on the type of bulb.

Here’s a guide:

  • Amaryllis: No chill time needed
  • Crocus: 8–15 weeks
  • Daffodil: 2–3 weeks
  • Grape hyacinth: 8–15 weeks
  • Hyacinth: 12–15 weeks
  • Iris: 13–15 weeks
  • Paperwhite: No chill time needed
  • Snowdrop: 15 weeks
  • Tulip: 10–16 weeks

All you need is a container at least six inches deep; there should be at least three inches of soil below the bulb or bulbs. Fill it with a well-draining potting mix (a local garden center can point you in the right direction). Then place the bulb in the soil and cover it only up to its neck. Water and keep in a cool place. (A garage usually works well for this, but so can a cold basement or the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Any place that is around 40 degrees will do nicely.) Make sure you keep the soil damp (not super wet) while the bulbs chill. When they’re ready, remove them from the cold area, water again, and set in a sunny spot. Soon flowers will begin to bloom.

If you decide on Amaryllis or Paperwhites, which don’t need any time to chill, start by soaking the bulbs in just-warm water for a few hours. Then plant, water, and keep them in a warm, sunny spot until they bloom.

Have you checked out the new Gardener’s Supply Company in Lebanon yet (formerly Longacres)? It’s a good place to get your bulbs and other supplies, and the staff there can answer any questions you might have. There is also more information on forcing bulbs on their website. Just go to

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