Fall Bulbs! How to Pre-Chill, Forcing 101

Fall Bulbs! How to Pre-Chill, Forcing 101

Congratulations you have just received your orders of bulbs from our website and now it is time to begin prepping them to bloom early. The way we are going to get our bulbs ready to bloom early is through a process called Forcing. Forcing is a process by which you manipulate the bulbs into blooming outside of their usual growing conditions. Bulbs are considered force when grown in warm environments, inside or in containers.

Quick Facts

-Gardeners in southern or in warm climates that do not necessarily have the appropriate cold conditions to get their fall bulbs to bloom will need to chill them first before planting.

-Some of the most popular bulbs for indoor forcing are TULIPS, DAFFODILS, and DUTCH IRIS.

-Tulips require a minimum chill time of 12 Weeks, of temperatures consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

 -Daffodils require a minimum chill time of 13 Weeks, of temperatures consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Dutch Iris requires a minimum chill time of 8 Weeks, of temperatures consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Start the chilling process as early as September to as late as mid-December. 

-Bulbs that have been chilled can be planted in warmer climates at the latest as Mid-January.


-For best results chill your bulbs in a refrigerator.

-Keep fruit and veggies out of the refrigerator you are using as they emit ethylene gasses which can cause the bulbs to rot.

-Root development is a crucial part of the chilling process, make sure to allow adequate time for roots to develop. 

-Place your bulbs in a container (pots with drainage holes) before refrigerating them. Then place the bulbs in the container in the refrigerator. 

-If you are not able to use a refrigerator, and live in a cold climate area you can store them outside. The best way to do this is to bury your pots to allow insulation and protection from damages that may occur from the freeze and thaw cycle. 

-For those pesky squirrels or voles, put chicken wire or hard cloth around the pots encasing the bulbs.

-Use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist during the chilling process.

-If you are doing indoor forcing remember to plant them so the tips are visible and about level with the surface of the soil.

-You can layer various types of bulbs in the soil for a longer bloom time in the pots. Plant the larger bulbs near the bottom and the smaller ones near the top of the pot. Allow 6 inches of soil below the bottom layer of bulbs to allow for root development which again is crucial. 

-After the initial chilling period slowly introduce your bulbs to warmer temperatures, by moving the pots to a location between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 Weeks with indirect light.

-Force your bulbs in the pot all winter and plant in a container outside in spring with cool-weather annuals like pansies.

-Check your bulbs weekly during the growing process to make sure the soil is not too dry or too wet.

*Bonus Tip*

Force tulips in pots with soil so the root can grow and develop. When the stems, leaves, and buds have formed remove them from the soil. Begin washing the soil off the bulbs and place them in a glass container with pebbles or stones and water.

So what are you waiting for, sit back and relax and begin chilling! Happy Gardening!!

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