Forced Flowering Bulbs | March Plant of the Month

This is the time of year when everyone gets “Spring Fever”. This year is even worse with Mother Nature teasing us humans and the landscape plants with days in the 60’s. The Snowbells are up and out of the ground a full month early!     

If you were one of the people who purchased Spring flowering bulbs last Fall, but just realized that they are still in the brown paper bags in the garage, do not feel bad. The Dutch Bulb Growers Association has conducted research that shows that 60% of all Spring flowering bulbs never get planted! (Even this horticulturist has been guilty of that!) 

This is what Forced Flowering Bulbs are for!

Chalet has growers that plant tulips, daffodils, miniature daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinth and standard size Hyacinth into pots in potting soil. The bulbs were allowed to make roots last Fall. The pots were all stored in refrigerated vaults for anywhere from 8-12 weeks to give them the same chilling treatment that bulbs would get if they had been planted in the ground in our landscapes.   

The pots (Chalet has 6” diameter and 10” diameter with 3 to 6 large bulbs or 5-9 small bulbs in each pot) have been taken out of the coolers and placed in 60 degree greenhouses, where they have grown leaves and produced flower buds.

You can purchase these pots to “force” them inside. (Force just means helping plants to grow and make flowers earlier than they normally would.) It is a fun trick that we have been doing for many years to enjoy our favorite Spring flowers earlier than normal.

You also have the option of planting the bulb plants in your outdoor containers or gardens. All of your neighbors will think that you planted those bulbs last Fall when everyone was planting Spring flowering bulbs. Do not worry Chalet will never tell! We are good at keeping secrets!  More good news, is that after those bulbs finish flowering; apply a good bulb fertilizer like Dr. Earth’s Bulb Food at the rate of 1 cup per 10 square feet around the leaves of the bulbs. Those leaves will photosynthesize, make carbohydrates that will re-build the bulbs that will make more flower embryos for next Spring.    

They will not survive in a pot that is above ground during next Winter, so move the bulbs that dressed up your outdoor containers this Spring into the garden in a sunny location that does not get too much water during the summer.

Jennifer Brennan

Horticulture Information Specialist, advising and coaching gardeners at Chalet for over 30 years.