Bring April into your home in the winter by forcing spring flowering bulbs. When the snow blankets the garden outside, the forced bulbs will remind the gardener that spring is just around the corner.
Most bulb packages will indicate whether or not the bulb is a good plant for forcing. Hyacinth, Crocus and Paper White Narcissus can be easily forced in water.
Hyacinths are an easy choice for forcing. Their scent is very strong and the plant is easily tricked into thinking it’s spring. You can force them in soil, or set the bulbs into a glass or vase filled with water.
Victorian Way to Force Bulbs
The Victorians were huge fans of bulb forcing and created clear glass vases specifically designed for this purpose. They were hourglass shaped.
The vase would be filled with water, and the bulb would sit in the top part of the hourglass with its base touching the water. It doesn’t take long for the bulb to start sending out roots.
With more and more people taking up gardening, thousands of garden specially shops have opened, and those old-fashioned vases have been reproduced and are easier to find.
If gardeners are unable to find an hourglass vase designed for this purpose, they may find something suitable in their glass cabinets or among their smaller vases. The top has to be narrow enough to hold the bulb, but not wide enough that it falls to the bottom. The aim is to keep the top half of the bulb dry to avoid rot.
Fall Purchase and Storage
Fall is the best time to purchase bulbs for spring flowering, so it’s important to think ahead. Keep them in a paper bag and store in the bottom of the refrigerator for at least 12 weeks. This will trick the bulbs into thinking it’s spring when they’re brought out to be forced.
Getting started is easy. When placed in the vase, add enough water so that the base of the bulb just touches it. It will need to be topped up from time to time so the new roots are always immersed.
Place the vase in a cool dark basement until the roots begin to form. This should take only a couple of weeks. At this point, the vase or vases can be moved to a warm sunny window.
The Downfall of forcing Spring Bulbs
The only downfall to forcing spring bulbs in winter this way, is that it takes away the bulb’s life force. This is a one-time endeavor for the bulb. When the flower is spent, the bulb is only good for compost.
Bulbs planted in the garden in fall offer years of pleasure. But, when forced indoors, you will have the pretty blooms and the scent of spring filling your home when the outside world is still blanketed with snow.