Forcing Bulbs Indoors

When selecting bulbs for forcing, try choosing larger bulbs as they provide the best indoor blooms. Preferred hardy bulbs include crocuses, grape hyacinths, hyacinths, and snowdrops. Tender bulbs include amaryllis and paper white narcissus.

There are two types of bulbs for indoor growing: those you need to chill and those you do not. Bulbs that do not need chilling are amaryllis and paperwhites. Bulbs that need chilling include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, and crocuses. The length of chilling varies by type of bulb and the amount of chilling the bulb had before planting; for most bulbs, a minimum of 10 weeks’ chilling is recommended.When planting, secure clean flowerpots with good drainage. Use one type of bulb per pot as chilling and bloom times vary. Use a standard potting mix (2/3 soilless mix, 1/3 compost/soil). Do not add fertilizer. Place bulbs according to the following guidelines:

  • Hyacinths – place 3 to 4 bulbs in a 7-inch pot or one bulb in a 4-inch pot. Allow the bulb tops to show above the soil.
  • Crocuses, snowdrops, grape hyacinths – place several in a pot, depending on pot size. Set 1 inch below the soil surface.
  • Amaryllis – plant in a pot filled with soil with about a third of the bulb above the soil line. Place in bright, indirect light, and water sparingly until growth begins in earnest.

After placing bulbs add more soil and firm it around the bulb. Leave 1 inch of room for watering and at least 2 inches below the bulbs for root growth. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, for the entire chilling period. A temperature between 35-45°F (1-8°C) is ideal. If the bulbs receive inadequate chilling, the tops may grow before the roots, and the flower bud will be abnormal. Store the potted bulbs in a dark and cool area such as a ventilated crawlspace, a cold frame, or a refrigerator.

These tips come from and the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. For more gardening tips, or if you have an interest in gardening – join the North Bay Heritage Gardeners! New volunteers are always welcome. No gardening experience is required. Visit our website and check out the virtual education resource packages that we are offering this year at

Kayla Gervais, Office Administrator
Suite 112-245 Oak St. E.,
North Bay, ON P1B 8P8

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