Just a glimpse of flowers in the depths of winter produces smiles. While florists and other sources can provide the potted delicate narcissus, colorful tulips or the dramatic amaryllis, forcing the bulbs to bloom indoors isn’t really that hard. It just takes a little planning.
First the bulbs will need to be “conditioned” to mimic the temperatures of wintertime. Plant the bulbs in a container with a drainage hole that is partially filled with light loose potting soil. Set the bulbs root side down and close together without touching for a concentrated burst of color. Sprinkle more rooting soil around the bulbs leaving the “necks’ of the bulbs exposed and water well.
Now the bulbs need to be conditioned in a dark place at a consistent temperature of 40-50º F. For some locations, an unheated garage or basement will work just fine, as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 20º. For colder areas, the spare refrigerator is an idea location as the dark interior can maintain a constant temperature. Condition the bulbs for 10-12 weeks. If you’re planting a series of pots, you’ll want to label and date them so that you can know what will be coming.
If a spare refrigerator or cool basement is not available, hyacinths are probably the easiest to force. Just put the bulbs in a paper bag in your refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. Then remove them and place them in the specially designed, hourglass shaped containers and keep the water level to the roots. Place in a sunny spot and in 4-6 weeks you’ll have fragrant colorful hyacinths to enjoy!