Summer flowers are spent, most fall blooms are fading, but winter color is still ahead. If you like to enjoy a burst of spring daffodils on your counter or end table long before crocuses pop through the ground, now is the time to start planning.
You will be able to buy forcing kits before long, but the cost can be high, and a little planning now can result in great room brighteners for January and February for not much money.
Many spring flowers can be forced, or tricked, into blooming inside during the winter if you know what you’re doing.
Amaryllis and paperwhites (mini white daffodils) can be potted up any time–in fact, Amaryllis will re-bloom eventually if you keep them watered and fertilized. Other bulbs require a chilling period in temperatures around 35-45 degrees (the temperature most refrigerators are set for). You can use bulbs you have purchased to use for the yard, making sure there is no damage, and that you use the biggest, healthiest looking bulbs.
If you can spare one of the crisper drawers in your refrigerator, that is the perfect place to pre-chill your bulbs–do not store fruits or vegetables with your bulbs as they can cause damage to the flowers if they go bad.
Paperwhites and Soleil d’Or can be forced in a bowl with rocks or marbles covered in water or a special forcing vase like the one pictured–just make the water deep enough to touch the bottom of the bulb. Neither of these plants require pre-chilling, but will benefit from a cool room for a couple of weeks (50 degrees would be best).
Most other bulbs prefer a longer period of chilling before you pull them out to start blooming.
Crocuses and grape hyacinths (Muscari) can be chilled for as little as eight weeks, while most other bulbs require 12-15 weeks, though Snowdrops require a full 15 weeks of chilling. Plant the bulbs in potting soil just far enough apart so the bulbs don’t touch each other, and bury them so just the tips of the bulbs stick out of the soil.
The flowers will take 2-3 weeks to bloom once you remove them from the refrigerator, so plan now for spring color in January and February.