Spring bulb gardening hack to ‘trick’ plants into flowering in winter

Gardeners' World: Adam gives advice on planting spring bulbs

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Garden flower bulbs are easy to grow though they often need to be planted months in advance for bold, healthy blooms. While most freshly planted bulbs can withstand the cold winter weather outdoors, gardening experts have shared how moving them indoors at the right time can induce their flowering period. Here’s how to “force” bulbs to add a splash of colour to your home and garden in winter.

Planting spring bulbs in autumn is one of the most important jobs to prepare for the warmer months, but it can be unfulfilling when you have to wait weeks for the flowers to emerge.

To reap the benefits of your gardening efforts sooner, an expert at Growing Family recommended planting some bulbs in pots as well as in the ground to “force” them to flower early.

They said: “Forcing bulbs is speeding up the natural process of bulb growth and flowering. You need to trick your bulbs into thinking that it’s already winter by creating winter conditions – so essentially, cold and dark.

“This makes them start to grow earlier than they would do naturally, which results in early blooms.”

How to force spring bulbs

Most types of flowering bulbs will respond to “forcing” which is as simple as growing garden varieties indoors over winter instead of outside.

Crocus, tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and amaryllis are all suitable for growing in pots, though it is important to consider the size of the container you choose to grow them in.

Forcing bulbs involves keeping the pots in cold winter-like conditions for a few weeks before moving them into a warm spot to flower.

This can be done by growing pots of single species or a mixture of different flowers. An expert at Growing Family noted that some bulbs such as tulips need to spend twice as long in “winter conditions”, compared to hyacinths, crocus and daffodils.

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Start by planting the bulbs in suitably sized pots using peat-free compost.

Fill one-third of the way up before placing the bulbs with the pointy end facing upwards.

An expert at Growing Family said: “Pack them in but try not to let them touch each other. “The more you put in, the bigger the show when they flower.”

Once the bulbs are in position, fill the pots with more compost to just below the top of the pot.

Each bulb should be planted to twice its depth for the best chances of flowering.

Once the pots are full, water each one well and position them in a cool, dark place.

According to Growing Family, a shed or garage are good options as long as the soil is not exposed to light.

If direct light is unavoidable, try covering the pots with paper bags.

An expert at Growing Family said: “Check your pots now and then; keep them damp, but not wet.

“When you see green tips poking through the soil, move the pots into a warm room indoors and they will flower in two to three weeks.”

Forced bulbs can be reused after they’ve finished flowering too, all you need to do is snip off the dead blooms.

Leave the foliage intact and leave the bulbs in a bright, protected spot on a windowsill and water regularly until the leaves die off.

Remove the bulbs and dry them out ready to be replanted next autumn.

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