A few weeks ago I finally got round to potting up forced bulbs for an indoor Christmas display of Hyacinths and Paperwhite Narcissi.
You can use ordinary bulbs for indoor planting and you may have success but a ‘forced’ bulb has been pre-chilled which means it is ready to kick into life rather than waiting for a cold frost if it were an ordinary bulb planted outside.
Most bulbs which you try to force for a Christmas display, need to have a period in the cool and be in the dark for anywhere from around 6 – 10 weeks depending on the variety. A garage or shed can be the ideal place for a few weeks before bringing them into a warmer room in the house with more light, which tricks the bulb into thinking it is Spring and voila, the stems and flower buds will shoot up over the next few weeks.
I’ve potted up these baskets with three Hyacinth Aioios each which should produce white flowers. They are planted in bulb fibre instead of general multi-purpose compost. As the baskets have no drainage holes, bulb fibre contains charcoal which helps stop the bulbs from rotting. Do make sure though not to overwater bulbs – no one likes a soggy bottom!
You can plant the bulbs close together but not touching with the pointy end of the bulb always pointing upwards. Fill around the bulbs with more bulb fibre but leave the tips showing, water and them pop them away in the garage for a few weeks. You need do little else but a weekly check to make sure the bulb fibre hasn’t dried out.
Once you have shoots of about 5cm or so, you can bring the whole basket or pot indoors and with the light and heat of your house, you can be looking at flowers appearing in about 3 weeks.
After enjoying your indoor display, you can plant the bulbs outside in the garden to fill a gap and they will come back next year as a garden bulb.