How To Plant Tulip Bulbs Indoors

If you adhere to a few basic rules, it’s simple to grow a pot of budded tulips as a great midwinter gift or a reminder that spring is approaching:

Select bulbs that are firm and weighty for their size (12 cm or more), and that are topsize. Larger bulbs produce larger flowers. Pick tulips that bloom early, such as Triumph or Single Early.

In the pot, group the bulbs closely together. More bulbs result in more blooms. Typically, a 6 pot can accommodate 6–7 bulbs. Because the bulbs already have the necessary nutrients, fertilizer is not required.

Use potting soil that is easy to drain. The bulbs should be buried in the soil once the container has been filled to within 2 of the top rim of the pot. As more soil is added, the bulbs’ tips will eventually disappear completely. The soil should be about half way down the top rim.

Thoroughly water. If you wish to distinguish between the pots that you planted because most tulip bulbs resemble one another, label the pot! Various types bloom at a little bit different times.

For a minimum of 12 weeks, keep the pot in a consistently dark, cool (40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit) environment. The most consistent results will come from a refrigerator, so make sure it doesn’t freeze and avoid putting produce in it when bulbs are inside. As most fruits and vegetables ripen, ethylene gas is released, which harms flower buds. (A little, useful addition to the garage is a mini-fridge specifically designed for bulb forcing.)

Periodically water the pot of bulbs; it shouldn’t be allowed to completely dry out because too much moisture will cause the bulbs to rot. After 12 weeks, light green or yellow sprouts should start to emerge above the soil’s surface. At this point, the pot should be removed and placed in a dim area with a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

The seedlings will turn bright green after a few days. Place the pot in a warm, sunny area (60 to 70 degrees). To ensure that the plant receives sunshine from all sides and has straight stems, water it frequently and rotate the pot every few days. In three to four weeks, blooms ought to unfold.

Trim the dead petals when the flowers have completed blooming, but leave the leaves alone. The clump of bulbs should be removed from its pot as soon as the threat of a severe frost has passed and planted outdoors in a sunny, well-drained area. Water the foliage often until it becomes yellow, then fertilize with perennial or bulb food. The tulips should bloom again at their usual time the following year after being securely pruned back. Avoid attempting to force them a second time; it rarely works.

Kickstart Spring by Growing Tulips Indoors

Although spring can feel far away in the gloomy, chilly days of winter, there are ways to enjoy lovely spring bulbs before they blossom in the yard. With a little preparation, growing tulips inside in pots is simple; continue reading to learn everything you need to know.

Growing Tulips Indoors: Forcing

For a spectacular display, tulip bulbs that you intend to grow inside must be “pushed or frozen. Buy your tulips in the early fall, place them in paper bags, and keep them cold for 12 to 16 weeks, like in the refrigerator’s salad drawer or a frost-free garage.

Growing Tulips Indoors: Planting

Pick a container with drainage holes, and fill it halfway with compost. With their pointed ends facing up, arrange your previously frozen tulips in a bed of compost, leaving just the tops of the bulbs showing. Once the shoots start to appear, keep them in a cool, dark spot, like a garage, for 6 to 8 weeks. Then, move them into a bright, warm room, where your tulips will bloom in 2 to 3 weeks.

Growing Tulips Indoors in Water

Why not try growing tulips in water for an intriguing variation on indoor gardening? The tulip bulbs must once again be frozen for a few weeks prior to planting. A specific forcing vase can be purchased, or you can select a small glass vase that you can partially fill with glass beads or small stones. Keep the water level about 1″ below the base of the bulb as it sits in the neck of the vase with only its roots touching the water. When a shoot starts to emerge, transport the plant to a bright, warm location where it will blossom after being kept in a cool, dark room for 4–6 weeks.

Why not plant some tulips in the fall to decorate your home in the winter and early spring now that you know how to grow tulips indoors? For more ideas, look through our collection of tulips. You’ll find a dizzying number of tulip variations in hues and forms to fit every preference.

Learn How to Care For Tulips in a Pot or Container For a Dazzling Spring Display

Colorful tulips in a planter can make a stunning spring display. To extend the blooming season, plant alone or alongside other spring flowering bulbs like daffodils.

How to Care For Tulips in a Pot Outside

Fall is the best time to put tulip bulbs in containers. Pick a planter that has drainage holes. Plant the tulip bulbs with their pointed ends up, filling the container halfway with soil or compost. Tulips can be planted close together, but make sure they aren’t touching because this will make them rot. Set in a protected location for the winter after filling up with dirt and thoroughly watering. Move the container to a sunny location once the tulips begin to grow in the spring.

How to Care For Tulips in a Container: Aftercare

Tulips cultivated in pots experience more stress than those grown in the ground would, which makes it unlikely that they will bloom again the following season. If you’re unsure of what to do with potted tulips after they bloom, it’s best to remove the blooming bulbs and replace them with fresh ones to plant in the fall.

How to Care For Tulips in a Container: The Lasagne Method

Layering bulbs in a pot, much like assembling a lasagna, can produce beautiful color combinations and lengthen the flowering season. Pick a deep pot with excellent drainage. The bulbs that will blossom the latest should be planted after adding a couple of inches of soil. Plant an earlier flowering variety after adding another layer of soil. Finish out the container by adding a layer of very early bulbs, like crocus, or add other springtime flowers, like wallflowers, pansies, or daisies.

The only challenge left now that you know how to take care of tulips in a pot is choosing which of the many different types to plant. Visit our tulip collection for more ideas, where you can also get more practical advice on how to grow flower bulbs.

How can you make indoor tulip bulbs bloom?

First off, the term “forcing” is inaccurate because it conjures up images of labor. We’re merely deceiving the bulbs into believing that winter is ended much earlier than it actually is. At a time of year when spirits desperately need renewing, forcing is a simple trick that gives the uplifting fragrances and hues of spring. But in order to get the benefits when the snow starts to fall, you must plant now, in the autumn. Although we frequently think of forcing Daffodils, Hyacinths, and Tulips, many of the smaller bulbs, such as Crocus, Muscari (Grape Hyacinth), Scilla, Dwarf Irises, and Anemones, are also incredibly simple and rewarding to force.

There are two categories of forced bulbs: those that need freezing and those that don’t. When bulbs do need cooling, they actually only need a much shorter period of time than a typical northern winter. (For specifics, see the list at the bottom of this entry.)

The bulbs should be planted in any well-draining potting soil, given water, and left for the shortest amount of time (see below) in a cool, but not freezing, dark location. After that, they should be brought indoors where it is warm and well-lit. The bulbs immediately sprout and flower because they believe spring has arrived. That simple—the bulbs handle the bulk of the labor.

If you want to involve your children or grandchildren, this is a terrific project to do with them. The actual planting process can be a little messy, so it’s a good idea to spread some newspapers to catch any dirt that may leak, collect all of your pots in one location, and complete the planting in one go.

If you want to force bulbs, you can use any pot as long as it has three to four inches of space below the bulbs for root growth. Show off your favorite terra cotta pots, flea market purchases, and tag sale finds at this event. You will need to water your bulbs carefully if you choose a pot without a drainage hole in the bottom since bulbs that sit in moist potting mix will quickly decay. If you’re pushing tall Tulips or Daffodils, think about using a ceramic or terra cotta pot. When fully bloomed, these blooms can be top-heavy and may tumble if grown in light plastic pots.

We advise using a soilless potting mix to plant bulbs (available at garden centers and hardware stores). A soilless mixture retains moisture while easily allowing extra water to flow away.

Put potting mix in a plastic bucket or tub before starting to pot the bulbs. Once the mixture is moist but not soggy, gradually add water while stirring. If you want to include a child or grandchild in the excitement, this is the perfect task for a very young assistant. Fill the pot approximately three-quarters full with the moistened mixture. If you can’t determine which end is up, like with Anemone blanda, place the bulbs on their sides rather than root-side down on top of the mixture. The bulbs should be placed considerably closer together than you would in a garden; they practically need to touch. Finally, add more mix. Larger bulbs should be covered up to their necks, leaving the tops of the bulbs exposed. Cover little bulbs entirely with a 1/2 layer of mix. After potting, properly water.

Cold-hardy bulbs must first be stimulated to form new roots by being kept cool and moist for a duration that varies depending on the type of bulb in order to force them into bloom (see listing below). Most bulbs flower best when stored at 40-60F for the first 3–4 weeks after potting, then at 32–40F for the remainder of the cooling period. This transition replicates the fall to winter season’s decrease in soil temperature outdoors.

Placing bulbs outside and letting nature take its course is the simplest approach to get them to cool. Bury the pots in a layer of dry leaves kept in place by a plastic tarp or in a pile of mulch, such as bark or wood chips, and cover the pile to avoid the development of a frozen crust to protect the bulbs from sudden changes in air temperature and from freezing cold. If you’re fortunate enough to have one, you can also chill bulbs in a chilly cellar, an unheated garage, or a cold frame. Just make sure the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing.

Make sure there is no fresh fruit present in the refrigerator before chilling bulbs. Fruit naturally releases ethylene gas as part of the ripening process, and this gas will obstruct the growth of flowers. It could be challenging to set up for the appropriate temperature shift indicated above in places other than a refrigerator. Fortunately, most bulbs haven’t read the instructions, so if the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much above or below 40F when the bulbs are rooting, they will root wonderfully. Professional growers accurately control the temperatures while filling enormous walk-in coolers with planted bulbs. You may achieve fantastic results using an old refrigerator in a basement without ever touching the temperature settings.

The potential drawback of outdoor storage has four tiny legs. All of your bulbs will be consumed if mice or other rodents have access to them, with the exception of those that are poisonous or repulsive to them (such as Narcissus, more commonly known as Daffodils). Use steel mesh, such as hardware cloth, to shield potted bulbs.

Please be aware that for bulbs to successfully freeze, moisture is just as crucial as temperature. Every few weeks, check the potting mix in the pots, and when the surface seems dry to the touch, properly water it.

Check the pots for evidence that the bulbs have rooted as soon as the suggested rooting period has passed. The bulbs are often ready to bloom when thick white roots can be seen peeking through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pots. Give the bulbs extra time in the cold storage if you can’t see any roots. The appearance of shoots emerging from the tops of the bulbs should not be used to determine preparedness; without roots, the bulbs won’t flower as intended.

You don’t have to immediately remove the bulbs from the cold once they have taken root. Most plants will endure additional freezing period, enabling you to plan a series of winter blooms.

Bring the pots out of cold storage once the bulbs have rooted, and place them in a bright window in a cool room (one where the temperature stays below 65F). The leaves and flower stems will remain compact in bright light; in dim light, they have a tendency to flop. The bulbs most likely generated white shoots while being stored in the cold. They immediately turn green in the sunlight.

As the bulbs begin to send up leaves and blossom stems, pay special attention to how much moisture they need. The bulbs won’t likely need watering more regularly than once per week at first, if at all, but by the time they bloom, you might need to water them every other day or two.

The majority of bulbs will blossom 2–5 weeks after emerging from the cold, bringing with them the pleasant scents and vibrant hues of spring. The length of bloom varies depending on the variety and bulb type, but it is typically less than you’d anticipate with garden-planted bulbs. The demise of the blooms is accelerated indoors by warm temperatures and low humidity. To extend bloom, move the pots out of direct sunshine and into a cool space at night.

We often advise placing the bulbs on the compost pile after the blossoms have faded. After the risk of a heavy frost has gone, forced bulbs can be planted in the garden if you keep them in a sunny window and keep watering them, but they won’t bloom properly again for at least two years. Daffodils, Crocus, and Grape Hyacinth are more likely to be worth the effort of planting than Tulips, which rarely bloom again.

Hyacinths can be forced in glass jars, water with pebbles, or both. If forced in this manner, they still require a cool rooting period. Only the bulb’s roots reach the water in special forcing glasses that have been in use since Victorian times and are designed like an hourglass to keep the bulb’s bottom dry. If you’re putting pebbles in a different kind of container, fill the bottom of the bowl or pot with a layer or two of pebbles, such as pea stones, marble chips, or river rocks. The top third of the bulbs should be exposed when the bulbs are placed on top of the pebbles and then filled with more stones. Make sure to keep the bases of the bulbs above the water line while adding enough water to serve as a reservoir for the roots. The bulbs will perish if they are left in water. Then, after 4–8 weeks, keep the container in a dark, cool location (40–50F). Regularly check the water level and top it off as needed to keep it below the bottom of the bulb. It’s time to relocate the bulb into a bright window in a cool room once the roots have formed and the leaves have started to grow (one where the temperatures stay below 65F). After the risk of a heavy frost has gone, bulbs that have been forced in water can be planted in the garden, but they won’t bloom well for at least two years, if not ever.

Although experts frequently advise extremely long cold spells, we’ve had success at home utilizing the minimums given here. Keep in mind that bulbs can continue to cold for longer than the required time. Please be aware that tulips do need the longest amount of time to successfully flower.