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Bring a Touch of Spring into your Home by Forcing Bulbs 
By Monica  Resinger
_http://homemakersjournal.com_ ( 
Forcing bulbs is a method of bringing a spring bulb into flower before its'  
natural flowering season and out of its' natural surroundings. To force a 
hardy  bulb into flowering indoors, we need to trick it by mimicking what would 
happen  to it in its' natural surroundings. 
Why would we want to do this?
To have flowers blooming inside your house  in the bleak of winter can lift 
your spirits and brighten up your home. If you  force a fragrant bulb, such as 
hyacinth, you will also scent your home with a  wonderful aroma.
What bulbs can you force? 
You can force just about any spring bulb  including, but not limited to: 
snowdrops, grape hyacinth, crocus, daffodils,  tulips, and hyacinth. Catalogs 
usually identify forcing varieties. 
How do you force bulbs? 
The only requirement in this department is cleanliness. When  you are 
choosing a container, keep in mind that clay dries out faster so you  would 
have to 
water more often. But, clay pots usually are more attractive, so  the choice is 
up to you. 
Bulb Choice
If you are buying your bulbs from the garden center, choose  bulbs as you 
would produce at the grocery store. Don't buy a bulb that is  squishy, has 
blemishes, or small in size compared to others. Look for a firm,  good-sized 
that looks healthy. You will need a high quality bulb for  forcing because the 
bulb contains the food for the upcoming flower. 
How Many?
Groups of three to five look best. You can plant as many bulbs  as will fit 
in your container as long as the bulbs aren't touching each other or  the edges 
of the container. 
Planting Medium
A mixture of equal parts potting soil, sand, and perlite  is best since bulbs 
need moisture and drainage. If you would like to plant your  bulbs outdoors 
after forcing, add one teaspoon of 5-10-5 dry fertilizer to every  quart of the 
planting medium. Moisten the planting medium to a damp consistency  before 
Hyacinths and narcissus can be forced in pebbles and water with no  
additional nutrients, but the bulb will never be able to flower again if using  
method and should be disposed of after flowering. Put washed pebbles in the  
bottom of a narrow glass container and cover with water. Set the bulb slightly  
`into' the pebbles so it will stand. Bulbs should be cleaned before placing 
them  in the container. The container should be kept in a cool (45 to 50 
degrees),  dark location until tip growth is 3 to 4 inches long and the flower 
 emerges from the bulb. This may take 8 to 12 weeks. When the top growth is 
well  developed, move the container to a cool, bright window.
Fill your container half-full with the planting medium then set  a bulb 
pointed end up on top of the medium. If the tip of the bulb isn't level  with 
top of the container, add or take out soil to make it so. Plant bulbs  pointed 
end up and as close together as possible without letting them touch.  Fill in 
with planting medium and water well. Label the pot with the name of the  bulb 
and date of planting. 
Cooling Period
Place pots in a cool dark place such as a refrigerator or  in an unheated 
garage. If necessary, place a box or a black garbage bag over the  pots to keep 
them dark. Temperatures should be 35-48* F. Keep the soil moist  during this 
rooting and cooling period. After five to six weeks, the roots  should start 
coming out of the bottom of the containers of large hardy bulbs. 
Out of Cold Storage
When shoots are two to three inches and there are  fine white roots coming 
out of the drainage holes, it's time to bring the pots  out of cold storage. 
This could take from 12-16 weeks. At this point, bring the  pot to a cool room 
such as an unheated bedroom where it will be in the 50`s.  They will need 
indirect light and adequate moisture. Feed weekly with half  strength 
fertilizer. Turn the pots every other day or so to keep the  stem growing 
straight. In a week or two the stems will grow taller and the buds  will become 
Into Bright Light
When the foliage and buds are well developed, bring  them into a bright, 
sunny window where the temperature is around 65*F. When they  start to flower, 
move them to indirect light to prolong the flowers. 
After Flowering
When the bulbs have finished flowering, cut off the stem  and move the pot 
back to direct light. Keep the foliage growing until it starts  to die back. 
Don't pull off the dying leaves because these contain food for next  years' 
flowers. Stop watering and store the bulbs in a cool dry place until late  
or early fall when they can be planted into the garden. By planting the  bulb 
into the garden, they will regain their strength and show healthy flowers  in 
the next season or two. If you want to force bulbs again, don't use the same  
bulb as you did the year before because forcing weakens the bulb and the 
flowers  will be unsatisfactory. Instead, start over and shop for fresh, 
Why not give it a try and bring a touch of spring into your home this  
Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home  
of many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and  
more!  _ ( 
Get a  FREE Slowcooker Recipe E-book when you subscribe to Monica's FREE 
e-zine for  homemakers!  To subscribe and receive instructions for picking up 
FREE  e-book, just send a blank e-mail to:  
Feel  free to publish this article as long as the above bylines & this note 
are  included; notification at [EMAIL PROTECTED] (mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]) 
 would be  appreciated.

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