How to Plant Bulbs Indoors in Layers to Stretch the Season!

I am HANKERING for Spring right now, and while I see a few tiny bits of green in the garden popping their heads up, they are few and far between.  So to keep my flower heart happy, I must force bulbs.  It is not an option for me not to grow things in the winter.  Whiteflies, dirt on the floor and a few water stains withstanding, it is worth it.  Join me today as I walk you through how to plant bulbs (daffodils in this case!) in layers to stretch the bulb forcing season right up until the REAL daffodils are popping their heads up in the garden!

Here is my bunch of bulbs, nice and dry and good flaky skin.  
They should be like onions:  firm and white on the inside with dry flaky layers covering the bulb.

Here is a medium sized bulb.  That brownish area is no big deal and those roots look shriveled, but they'll come back to life.

These are the roots.  Plant them DOWN and plant the point UP!

When you see a bulb like this with a giant "crack" down the middle, don't despair! 
 This is actually a baby bulb that has formed, so you get double your money!

Here are two that are ready to split.   Don't these two look like they are holding hands?? :)
When you find bulbs like this, just gently pull them apart and plant them separately. 

TIP -- Plant this first layer DEEP - daffodils will reach up to the light!!  You can plant 6-8 inches into the pot.  Now when I plant bulbs for forcing, I just pile them on in there.  There is no reason to spread them out like you would in the ground because they will get planted out in the ground before they really need the nutrients.  All of the energy needed to bloom is already in the bulb.  After blooming, I plant the bulbs out in the garden where the leaves will collect sunlight and the roots will draw nutrients from the soil to prepare the bulb for the following year.  The bulbs might not bloom the next spring after forcing, but they should come back the following spring.

Here are the little puppies all in a row!  I used a pot 1/2 full of dirt, scooped it to the side and placed the bulbs root down on half of the pot.  
Then I piled the soil on the planted bulbs and packed in the other side.

This is where the leaves and stems will appear.

This is a throw away bulb.  You can see how wrinkled the skin is.  When you squeeze the bulb it is soft inside instead of firm.  You would also want to throw away bulbs that have any visible mold or disease on them.  (When I say throw away, I mean throw in the compost unless it is diseased.)

I filled in with a little bit of dirt. Then I watered the entire pot pretty forcefully to work the soil down around the bulbs into all the spaces.

NOW HERE IS THE TRICK!  If you want to reeeeaaaalllly stretch the season,  plant a SECOND layer of daffodil bulbs right on top!  The daffodils are smart.  They will push their little stems around each other, so don't worry about crowding them.  This isn't the garden!  Just a pot! Once the first layer of daffodils blooms and dies, cut them off and wait for the second show.

If your bulbs don't bloom, what should you do??

1.  Be sometimes takes longer than you think. 

2.  Stop watering so much.  You can cause bulbs to rot if there is standing water on them.  
Don't water until the top inch of soil is dry.  You can pick up watering when growth picks up.

3.  Move the bulbs somewhere a little warmer (so they think it is spring!)

CLICK HERE to check out the rest of the DIY Gardening for Beginners Series!

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Ali McDonough said…
Hi Amy-
I love your blog and have nominated you for a Liebster Award!

Ali @ Forty before 40

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Shannon Fox said…
Super tips Amy! I know Spring is a long time in coming here... I could so use this!! Do you know if deer eat Daffies?
Amy Renea said…
Thanks Ali!

Shannon - they will eat them if they are starving, but they are the VERY last thing they will eat! Daffies are a classic deer-resistant plant! In fact, people sometimes plant other bulbs (tulips. etc.) in and around the daffodils to try to keep deer at bay.