Winter Respite


Do you force bulbs?

I don’t mean amaryllis and paperwhites. Those are great winter treats. But there’s no reason to limit yourself to those and there’s no reason to buy bulbs in stores (unless you choose to–I will generally add a few more hyacinth to what I am forcing every year because just can’t get enough! )


These glass jars are for hyacinth forcing ( although if you had large enough tulips they would work too). I just got these because the 3 I have aren’t enough.

At the end of ” bulb season” I buy a bag of hyacinth, usually half price. Then I am set for winter. I  start 2 at a time. They have a relatively long forcing period so as I get anxious,  I might plant some in soil as well.


I just found these when I was getting out my ornaments this year. I had forgotten about them. They are for smaller bulbs.  I will put a note in my garden journal for the fall to get some muscari, perhaps.  Something with fragrance is always good. Snowdrops could be interesting too.


The trick,  as you are starting them especially,  is to make sure that the water level is only just to the bottom of the bulbs.

The one on the left has been started awhile so the roots reach down into the water and it’s not an issue.

But you don’t want to rot the bulb where the neck of the “vase” meets the bulb. My green one probably has a little too much water.  I was having issues getting it right.

Let’s see if the Spoiler throws a fit about these, as he did when the overwintering figs were here.


And here’s how these bulbs look in bloom. You can save them to plant in the ground in the spring, although,  because they have been forced in water in may be a year or two before they bloom. They will not rebloom this year for sure!

But whatever happens,  I especially enjoy the fragrance at this bleak time of year.

2 thoughts on “Winter Respite

  1. tonytomeo January 29, 2018 / 11:07 pm

    I do not force bulbs because I do not like wasting them afterward. However, when I did, I did like the idea of getting them after ‘bulb season’, and I did happen to like hyacinth. They are so perfect for forcing. Pretty soon, I will be cutting and forcing flowering cherry stems. I sometimes leave a few unpruned branches on the fruit trees to cut and bring in for forcing later. I know it is a different technique, but I do not mind wasting the stems afterward.

  2. gardendaze January 30, 2018 / 5:18 am

    Oh, cutting stems of flowering trees for “forcing” is great! It really accomplishes 2 things at once: the trees get pruned at the correct time, and you have some blooms earlier than you would have outside. Thanks for weighing in on this, Tony!

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