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Forcing Tulip Bulbs

How to trick tulip bulbs into thinking winter is over to bring intoxicating colours and scents into the darkest months of the year

Step 1

Place tulip bulbs in a cool, dark place (35 to 45 degrees F) for 14-16 weeks.

We've been storing your tulip bulbs at Elmslie since mid-October, so this part os already done. 

Step 1 - Cold Storage 10-15 Weeks

Place tulip bulbs in a cool, dark place (35 to 45 degrees F) for 10-15 weeks.


If storing in the refrigerator, avoid putting them them crisper with other fruits and vegetables as the ethaline gas emitted by your produce may adversly effect them.

If storing bulbs in ziplocks, open the bages now and again to let the moisture evaporate to avoid mould from growing. 

Step 2 - Prepare your pots and soil  

Fill a large container with enough potting soil to fill your tulip pot. Dampen the soil thoroughly, mixing it together with your hands to distribute the water, and then fill the tulip pot with the damp soil, 3-4 inches below the rim of the pot.

Potting SSoil.jpeg

Step 3 - Plants the bulbs

Discard any mouldy boubs, then place tulip bulbs on top of the soil, pointy end up, crowding them together so they are almost touching. Cover the bulbs with more dampened potting soil. Write the date on a piece of tape and stick it on the pot. 

Step 4 - Mimic the slowly warming days of spring 

Place the pots in a cool, dark place. A basement or unheated garage is fine.


Water lightly once a week until you see leaves starting to grow, which should be 2-3 weeks. It's important not to let the soil dry out. The bulbs need moisture to help them slowly come to life. 

Putting the newly planted bulbs in a cold place really does work. I experimented with two pots of bulbs. I put on in a warm place and the other in a cool place after planting. The one I put in the cool place grew much faster over time. 

Step 5 - Monitor Progress

Day 1: Placed 10 bulbs in damp soil covered with soil, then put in a darkened, unheated room on jaunary 24


After Two Weeks: I got two 1-2" sprouts, and a third tiny one. Moved them into a warmer location with lots of indirect light. 

After Three Week: five of teh seven bulbs have come up, and leaves are starting to form

After Four Weeks: Seven of the 10 bulbs have come up, and buds have appeared! 

Step 6 - Lots of bulbs? Plant one pot a week for 4 weeks 

If you have a lot of tulip bulbs, divide the bulbs into 4 bags, and plant one pot one per week for four weeks and you will have tulips blooming in your home for weeks. 

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