Gardening Magazine

Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

By Kate_miller

Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

Ah... the blessings of an Indoor Garden...

 TGIF. Or, should I say TGIFE? Thank Goodness It's February's End. A short, not so sweet, month of odd weather. Dreary rain vs. welcome snow. More mud than imaginable. Ultra-warm days, teasing me into believing spring has arrived. (Seriously? Lilacs budding in February vs April?) It's messing with my gardener's mind...

Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

Daffodils growing in the sunny window.

Ever done something on impulse that turned out A-okay? Typically, it's the other way around for me. Impulse purchase = huge buyer's remorse. 

Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

Hyacinths in the kitchen window. Their delightful fragrance makes doing dishes more enjoyable!

Well, last November, on a whim, I did something totally silly which turned out to be perfectly sane. (Surprise!) Wandering around Home Depot, I spied a bin of autumn flower bulbs, on sale, 75% off. Like I'm gonna pass that up.

Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

I squeezed bulbs into existing potted plants, for happy color, while those flowering plants are dormant.

In late November, the ground is frozen, what to do? Turns out, you don't HAVE to do anything. They'll do it all by their lonesome.
IF you make the mistake I did, get online and look for instructions on how to force bulbs to bloom indoors, you will most likely give it up as a far too complicated idea. The laborious instructions on how to do it right made me roll my eyes.
Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

I forced over 100 bulbs this winter! A 100% success rate, I might add. They are smiling at me from every nook and cranny of this old house! And, I didn't do a whole lot to make that happen.
Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs
  • I left them in their store packaging, stuck them all in a brown paper bag. (The brown bag prevents the bulbs from receiving light when the 'frig door is open, which it pretty much always is... since I like to stand there, hoping something tasty will magically appear...)
  • Squished them into the veggie drawer of my refrigerator.
  • And, there they sat. Ignored until January.
When I rescued these goodies from their long, dark days in the refrigerator, half the bulbs had already sprouted. The other half joined the party days after I warmed them up.
Proof positive you can't keep a good plant down. :)
Chill Time - Forcing Flower Bulbs

* How-to instructions provide very detailed chill times for various bulbs, between 12 and 15 weeks. But, in reality, it's like every situation in your garden. Not rocket science, by any means. Chill bulbs in the 'frig for a couple of months. At 8 weeks, mine were sprouting and screaming: Get me outta here!!
** TIP: If you store fruit in your refrigerator, it can mess with bulb production. But, these beauties survived that challenge, as well.
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