To be honest, tulips are a hard bulb to force to bloom indoors, but it can be done. It’s hard not to want to have tulips blooming indoors because of their showcase of bright colors of yellow, pink, red, purple, orange, and some absolutely stunning bicolors. The size of the tulip does matter and this is one of those cases where bigger is better. The bulb is where the tulip’s energy is stored for next year’s bloom and the bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom.
The first thing that has to be done to force tulips to grow is winterizing. You want to place the tulips in a brown paper bag and have them covered in green moss. Set the bag inside the fridge for six weeks – this is what it means to winterize bulbs. Big thing to remember is to not place apples, grapes, apricots, or onions in the fridge when you are winterizing your bulbs as it can kill the bulbs and they will not grow.
After six weeks take the tulips out of the fridge and place them in a shallow dish that has two inches of washed stones on the bottom. Nestle the bulbs up to their shoulders in between the stones. Fill the dish up with water so that the water level is slightly above the stones. I like to use a glass bowl so I can see the roots start to grow within two weeks. Don’t forget to add more water weekly and then more often once the plants are established as they will drink a lot of water.
Typically a tulip bulb only produces one bloom or flower per season. Some of the newer varietals can produce up to four blooms. A tulip’s bloom period lasts between 1-3 weeks depending on the type of tulip it is. Once they have finished their bloom cycle, cut the flower head off with shears but make sure you leave the green leaves and the stalk so it will die naturally. The green leaves and stalk is providing the much needed fuel for the bulb so it can bloom again next year. After the stalks have died back, go ahead and cut them off.
You can do this all over again next year by storing your bulbs in a brown paper bag filled with green moss and store in room temperature. Make sure not to store the bulbs in the garage or anyplace where it will get extremely hot or cold. I always mark down on my calendar when I want to start the winterizing process again. Each year I buy a few more bulbs and see which ones do the best for indoor growing.
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Kristi Trimmer is currently running half marathons across the U.S. and blogging about her journey at DragonflyRunning.com.