Forcing Bulbs Indoors

I love flowers. Anytime of year, really. But spring gets me every year with all of the fresh blooms after a long, cold, bleak winter. What better way to welcome spring and brighten your home than forcing bulbs indoors?  This is so easy, you’ll be asking yourself why you’ve never tried it!


(Photo Source: Dave’s Garden)

Forcing bulbs indoors is so simple! It only requires a few basic steps and ingredients!  And is great for kids!

Quick background on bulbs: Some bulbs require what is called vernalization,  or a chilling period, in order to bloom. That’s why we plant bulbs in the fall.

One bulb that is unique to vernalization is, Paperwhites. Paperwhites come from the Narcissus genus, which also includes Daffodils. But unlike Daffodils, Paperwhites don’t require vernalization! So if you are like me, and don’t have any bulbs chilling in your refrigerator waiting to be forced indoors, Paperwhites will be your bulb of choice for this project.

If you get Paperwhite bulbs planted indoors now, you should have beautiful, white, fragrant blooms just in time for Easter this year! What a great symbol of growth and rebirth!


To Force bulbs indoors, you’ll need:

  • Paperwhite bulbs (I couldn’t find any available at my local nursery, so I ordered mine from Amazon I ordered these ones & these).
  • Small pebbles or glass marbles, I found the clear bag pictured above at a local garden center, and the pebbles in the black bag I found here.
  • A container or two and water.



You can use whatever containers you have. Paperwhites only need 2-3 inches of root room, so shallow or deep containers work well. I like the tall clear ones, because you can see the roots, water level, rocks and bulbs. The tall containers also help support the plant as it gets tall and blooms.  If you plant in a shallow bowl, you can secure stems with a pretty ribbon to help support them as they grow and bloom.


Once you choose your container, place around 3 inches of pebbles in the base of your container. The planting medium (pebbles or glass marbles) just needs to provide support, not nutrients, and must be suitable for roots to grow through. I used about 5 lbs of these pebbles for the 3 containers I potted.

Next, you are ready to place the bulbs, be sure the bulb is facing with the root side down (The wider bottom).

The left picture above is the top side of the bulb, it almost looks like an onion. The right side shows the bottom of the bulb, you can see a few roots coming off of it.

Make sure the top 1 1/2 inches of each bulb is be ABOVE the pebble line. Plant bulbs closely together without touching for the fullest display.



You can place a few pebbles around the bulbs to secure in place.


Next, add enough water to come to the BASE of the bulb. This keeps the bulbs moist without soaking the entire bulb, and causing  it to rot.


Place the bowl in a sunny location. Lots of light helps keep the stems from growing too tall and flopping over. In about a week or so, roots and top sprouts will appear. I’m hoping my timing is just right this year, to have gorgeous blooms for an Easter center piece.


Not only is this a simple project, but the buds and blooms develop quickly; making this a super fun project for children. My daughter and her cute friend planted single bulbs in small containers.

Lets bring those fresh, bright, happy, fragrant, blooms indoors.  I can’t wait to hear and see about your Paperwhites projects!

Be sure and tag me in your Paperwhites project pictures #thegardenspotpaperwhitesproject

*What to do with the bulbs after blooming?

Paperwhites have a hardiness zone of 8-10. So if you live in northern Utah like me, (or other cold areas with a zone colder than 8) unfortunately, you won’t be able to move the bulbs into the garden when they are finished blooming.  Water-forcing also zaps most of their strength, and consequently increases the odds that they will never bloom again. So, discard them after you are done enjoying their beauty and pick out new bulbs again next year.

3 thoughts on “Forcing Bulbs Indoors

  1. If I want to try tulips next year how do I vernalize the bulbs? Will they take as long as if I planted them outside? And then when they are done blooming can I let the bulbs dry out again?


    • You’d have to purchase bulbs that have all ready been chilled, or get your own bulbs this fall and store them in the refrigerator until spring!
      When the bulbs are through blooming, you can dry them and then keep them in a cool dark place until fall. Then come fall, you can plant them outdoors!


  2. Pingback: Forcing Bulbs Indoors | The Garden Spot

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