Forcing Flower Bulbs Now for Indoor Mid-Winter Blooms

If you would like to brighten up a dreary mid-winter day, you might want to begin forcing a few flower bulbs now.
If you're not familiar with this method; the term "forcing" simply means to encourage the bulb to bloom prematurely, out of season. By doing this you can enjoy a sneak peek of the Spring season weeks before it actually arrives.

To me, planting seeds or bulbs evoke similar feelings to those I experience when baking bread.

A little effort put forth now results in pleasurable and satisfying rewards in the not-too-distant future.

Like putting savings into a happiness bank for another day!
It's a treat for the future.

Usually I force Paperwhites; but I find the fragrance can be overpowering at times, even unpleasant to some ~ no matter how beautiful the flowers.

This year I decided upon Hyacinths, all white ones, as in the opening photo. Whenever I think of hyacinths, one of my favorite lithographs comes to mind:

Princess Hyacinth
Czech artist Alphonse Mucha's famous 1911
Art Nouveau lithograph "Princeza Hyacinta".

I love white flowers, and if you haven't had the pleasure of smelling the hyacinths heavenly perfume, you're in for a real treat.

You can either use a specialty vase like those shown here, or simply fill any shallow container with stones, or glass florist's pebbles and nestle the bulbs into the stones. Add water to the container so it just barely touches the bottom of the bulbs.

Hyacinth bulbs, like many bulbs, require a good chilling period in order to bloom. If you live in a colder climate you can just keep them in a garage or potting shed. My weather doesn't get very cold until mid-winter, so I chill them in the vegetable crisper. (It might be wise to mark the container, so no one mistakes them for odd looking onions.) :)

Just a warning regarding hyacinth bulbs; if you handle them you may find you are allergic to them, as I am. So use gloves when handling, or remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

Handling them can cause intense itching in some individuals, which is what happened to me yesterday when I casually brushed my hair from my face while rummaging through the bulb bin at the nursery. The itching is intense, but usually passes within 10 to 20 minutes. But oy!
I wish I had read this warning first:

I had never experienced this before with hyacinth bulbs~ usually because I plant them outdoors when I'm wearing gardening gloves.

There are plenty of online directions for forcing bulbs; here is a copy from my local paper with more information. (Click to enlarge)

If you haven't forced bulbs before, I hope you'll give it a try!

I always force a few extras; they make a wonderful little hostess gift, or a "just because" for friends & neighbors.


  1. I haven't forced bulbs in a couple of years. I think I have to do it this year. They are so pretty and easy to do. thanks for the reminder.

  2. wonderful post mary, you always take such care in what you share~ never knew people reacted to hyacinths before! i cannot touch pepper seeds when sowing seeds, so i understand reactions~ i love the fragrance and beauty of these too. my paperwhites in the garden are in full bloom, they can never be to overpowering for me, i adore them! i have some growing in the kitchen window too in a lovely cylinder chock full of bulbs. thanks for sharing this moment, i love it~

  3. I totally love your photos. That first one is beautiful!

  4. Thanks for the reminder Mary! I have some little bulb vases something like yours. Guess I'll have to go pick something out tomorrow. Princess Hyacinth looks like she'd rather be somewhere else!

  5. Hello, Thanks so much for stopping by. Hyacinths are beautiful flowers. Im not a very good gardener, but I do like fresh flowers around my home. Its interesting about the Hyacinth oil. I am allergic to the oil that comes from a Lleyllandi tree. I have to keep my arms covered when I cut our trees down. I have been looking through your past posts and your food looks amazing X

  6. Very pretty post..Even Hyacinth looks like she loves your Blog!

  7. I am going to try this! I love white flowers, as did my grandmother. Wouldn't it be charmign to ahve these in the house in the winter months. I am planning to decoarte in frosty tones and whites this year! Can't wait to try this.


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