How to Grow and Force Bulbs Indoors

May 20, 2022

Forcing Bulbs Indoors

Bulbs are a beautiful addition to any home garden but did you know that you can grow them indoors too? Forcing bulbs is a technique where you can encourage the flowers to bloom outside of their normal environment, earlier than the main flowering season. The process is actually quite easy and particularly handy if you have missed the planting season and still want a great pop of colour in your home.

You may wonder what varieties you can force to bloom indoors and there are actually quite a few. Early in the year when Spring bulbs are in stock, try it out with Hyacinths, Tulips & Daffodils. Later in the year have a go with Hippeastrum for some spectacular blooms in time for Christmas. Choose the biggest bulb from your packets when deciding which ones to force into early blooms, they will have more energy stored inside which will make for great blooms.


Growing Guide


  1. For starters pre-chill your bulbs in the refrigerator to put them into a false dormancy. This will help them spring into growth once you plant them. Ensure the bulbs are kept in an airy bag and away from any fruit. Fruit releases ethylene, which can impact the quality of your bulb flowers.
  2. Secondly you will want to pick a pot or vase in which to grow your indoor bulbs. If you choose to grow your bulbs in a clear glass vase with water make sure you put some pebbles or river stones at the bottom, a 5cm layer or so is sufficient. This gives the bulbs something to sit on top of and elevates it out of the water so they don’t rot. Alternatively, you can try them in decorative shallow pots or tubs filled with potting mix or compost.
  3. Once your bulbs have chilled for a couple of months in the refrigerator it is time for planting! Get creative and mix different colours of bulbs in one large vase, or stick to a classic single colour theme. Ensure the bulbs are planted right side facing up (the top of the bulb is pointed) and gently wedge the bulb a couple of centimeters into your gravel or river pebbles layer to keep them propped up. Once arranged fill the vase with water only up to the very base of the bulbs so they don’t drown. If growing in potting mix or compost simply arrange your bulbs and bury them half way down the length of the bulb; they don’t need much soil to grow in this method.
  4. Keep an eye on the water level in your vase often, topping it up as required. When the roots sprout from the bulb they will start to soak up more moisture. If growing in potting mix keep it lightly moist but not too damp as bulbs are prone to rotting.
  5. When you notice the leaves sprouting from the top of the bulb either use a grow light or move it into a brighter area indoors to encourage flowering to take place. Foliage is a sign that the bloom is soon to follow.
  6. Once flowering has finished up, rather than throw out the bulb, pop it in a sunny spot in the garden in the chances it gives you another show the following year. Keep in mind that forcing bulbs can deplete many of those stored nutrients so it is not guaranteed to flower the second year. Make sure to give it a top up of food either in a liquid or slow release feed to replenish these lost nutrients.


Why not try this technique this bulb season - Shop Bulbs here.