After The Holidays, when the tree is taken down, the tinsel put away, and all the red and green decorations are tossed out for the year, your underlying home may look a little bare and stark. No matter what your home decor looks like, late winter is a great time to add a punch of spring color to your home.And when it comes to spring color, nothing does the job better than Nature itself.
Forcing bright and colorful spring bulbs in the cold of winter can give every room in your house a pop of color and a breath of spring. You can fill a pot with bright red tulips, make a statement plant with a majestic amaryllis, or give a sweet accent to a bathroom with a bunch of early crocus. If it’s a spring bulb you usually grow in your garden, you can force it to bloom months early indoors.
How to Force Bulbs
Hold back some of the bulbs when you buy them for planting in the fall, and store them in the refrigerator in a paper bag. Keep them in a vegetable drawer away from apples, which cause them to sprout prematurely, for two to three months. Pull them out of the drawer 24 hours before you’re ready to pot them, to allow them to slowly rise to room temperature.
Fill an ordinary planter with good drainage with fresh potting soil within 1 inch of the top of the pot. Arrange the bulbs, pointed side up, on the surface of the soil, as close together as possible without touching. Sprinkle on more potting soil to cover the bulbs, but leave their tips uncovered. Loosely cover the pot with a paper bag and place it in an unheated basement, garage or other cool area. Leave the pot in place until the bulbs begin to bud, usually about two to three weeks.
Water the soil regularly while the bulbs are chilling, to keep it moist but not wet. When you see green sprouts coming from the top of the bulbs, remove the paper bags and move the planter to a warm, sunny location. Keep the soil moist and turn the planter each day to allow each bulb to get the same amount of sunlight. Once the stems grow and flowers appear, move the planters to a bright location out of direct sunlight, to make the flowers last longer. Enjoy the bright touch of color as long as possible, then discard the potting soil and bulbs into the compost heap. They’re used up, and won’t sprout again next year.