anybody enjoy forcing flowers?

Grifton, NC(Zone 7b)

I am a newbie here and I love to force flowers.My DH thinks we are being overtaken by hyacinths and paperwhites.My hyacinths smell so good in the house.I am working on crocus and more hyacinths.I force mine in water.
Anybody else?

(Zone 1)

Forcingflowers: Welcome to Dave's Garden!

I'm pretty much a "Newbie" to DG myself, I just joined in October.

I have forced Paperwhites and Hyacinth's in water over the years. The only flowers I did this year are Amaryllis bulbs. It is a lot of fun to watch bulbs take root, sprout and bloom!

You will LOVE this "Garden" .... so many wonderful people with lots of great information!

Happy Gardening,

(Zone 9a)

I don't know anything about forcing flowers, but I have a peace plant that has great foliage, but no flowers. It's been over a year since I've seen any. Do you have any suggestions for getting it to produce flower stalks?

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

When I saw your post, i started laughing...during November and December the house was full of it is paperwhites..........I just grow in rocks, a tad bit of soil on the top and lots of water. Look at this one growing in all directions at this point...paperwhites are so easy you can't mess up....i need all the help I can get and this one is easy.
You are the one who knows how to force....amaryllis and paperwhites are all i know

This message was edited Jan 29, 2007 10:45 PM

Thumbnail by gessiegail
(Zone 1)

Fireant13: Right now, most plants are at a resting time (winter) so no flowers. I have a few Peace Lily's and I have used those little Miracle Grow or another brand I can't remember Plant Food Spikes for Flowering plants. You can find them at Wal-Mart. For small (6") pots, I use 2 or 3 in each pot. And, just water as needed ... you should see blooms in no time. None of mine are blooming right now, but in another month I will begin feeding them again and get blooms.

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

thanks for the tip,Lin...............that is why i won't buy Peace Lilies.....can't make them bloom you put those spikes in right after the plant quits blooming (they are all blooming when you buy them)?

(Zone 1)

Yes, you can put them in after they stop blooming, except in winter time, I let my plants rest for a couple of months.

(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the advice. In about a month, I'll try the spikes.

West Orange, NJ(Zone 6a)

I love forcing them - paperwhites, hyacinths, amaryllis, but my KIDS claim to be allergic to whatever I force. I say claim because when i grow them outside, I hear no complaints.

Grifton, NC(Zone 7b)

Glad to meet you all.Being a newbie I am somewhat lost.Anybody have luck forcing tulips?
Thank you for the welcome..

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I don't know how to force tulips...wish I Knew..but look at these paperwhites just since I posted on the 29th of Jan. No wonder I like to force...get instant results...hope someone out there tells us how to force tulips.

Thumbnail by gessiegail
(Zone 9a)

They are beautiful. Exactly how do you force them?

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

Firstly I usually buy them in December in any of the them in a brown bag in the refrigerator. Then I find any container like the depth of a bulb pan...and start in Dec. jan. or Feb.....put nothing but some kind of pebbles or clean rocks (I have actual black ones in this because I couldn't find another color from a vase I had used) up to depth of about 2 inches...then you can either just put wet spagnum moss on the top, fill up the container with water and let the bulbs just sit on top of the water. The roots will grab down to the water immediately. Since I didn't have any moss on hand, I used a soil-less mix that I had for the paperwhites to sit on the damp can go for water only.(but never let the bulb actually sit in water itself...only the roots)....doesn't make a difference....put in a east or south window. The fragrance is terrific, but get may be moving it to another room once it is in full bloom. (always stick your finger down to see that the water level stays pretty steady and add what you need as they grow)

Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

I was wondering about the longevity of forced bulbs. Do you only use them once? Seems to me they would need to be potted up and fed some Miracle Grow Bloom Booster or something like that to bloom the following year. Just a thought.

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I should keep mine, but I usually don't.....I would guess that the best way to have them the next year is to either put them in the ground somewhere with plenty of bonemeal and bloodmeal in the soil to let them build up for the next year.....the paper white can be pricey..........thanks for the good ideal

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

Ok.....last pic of paperwhite in full bloom....smells mighty good around here...

Thumbnail by gessiegail
Crofton, MD(Zone 7a)

Simply gorgeous, Bettygail!

Dunedin, FL(Zone 10b)

WOW gorgeous, Bettygail!

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

hello everyone (Allison, too)...I just sneaked in the last two days.....can't stay away from DG!!!!

Flora, IN(Zone 5a)

The answer to forcing tulips ,you have to pot them in soil then give them 4-6 weeks of cold 6weeks is better some will do ok in 4 then bring inside and give them the most sun you can. Sorry to say it's probably to late for this year

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I just wish I knew where to plant these bulbs so that i could use them again next year....2.00 a pop gets expensive....why couldn't I plant them in an old pot with bone meal and blood meal....and let them build up energy for next year....and just let the foliage die back like other bulbs????????????

Barnesville, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi to all.

I have forced tulips in previous years here in Georgia by doing the same thing I do to prepare tulips for outdoor planting here - put the bulbs in a refrigerator for at least 8 weeks -sometimes more. No, they don't smell, in case you're worried! Then I take most tulips and plant them outdoors, but I take a few bulbs and put in pots for inside blooming, placed in a sunny window. It works.

This past fall I actually bought a dorm-size refrigerator just for my bulbs.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

betty- please try it and let us know. you could add that to plantfiles. (if not already in there....)

Midland, TX

If I want to just grow bulbs in pots - having them bloom at the normal times, just moveable - is that "forcing" or can I just treat them like they are in the ground?

Austin, TX

hey great idea, I need to try that, I have grown grapefurits, and orange seeds and have 2 plants of each, also have a mango tree, its going on its second set of leaves, but never tried to force bulbs, will have to try that, thanks to all who have tried it and shared with others.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Forcing is when you're trying to get them to bloom out of season. If you want them to bloom when they'd normally bloom then I would do the same thing as you'd do for your garden beds (except get them some nice soil-less potting mix, not garden soil). I don't know what zone you're in, but if you're trying something like tulips they will probably need to be chilled, being in a pot vs in the ground or blooming in season vs out of season doesn't change the fact that they need to be chilled in order to bloom.

Sterling, NY

if i get my christmas cactus to bloom 4 or 5 or 6 times a year is this called forcing?

Palmdale, CA(Zone 8a)

lizzzz- I would think so since most people prefer them to bloom around Christmas. I had planted daffodils a month ago since the pack said to plant in fall. Now the bulbs are sprouting. Were they planted to early or on time? (anyone can answer this)

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

"Forcing" is the result of intentional manipulation of a plant's cultural conditions to achieve an end - most often an 'out-of-season bloom cycle. It could be resultant of a person having controlled photo-intensity/photo-period (the brightness of light or duration of exposure to light), temperature, nutrition, moisture levels, etc. Since 'forcing' isn't necessarily limited to those bulbs that lend themselves to being manipulated, I'll leave you with something I wrote that might add some extra cheer during the late winter months:


When the hustle and bustle of the Christmas and New Year holidays are behind us, our thoughts often turn to spring and a longing for the flowers it brings. While many of you are already somewhat familiar with forcing bulbs and branches of woody plants, it's likely a few might not be as familiar with the woody plants as they are with bulbs. I'll try to give a little overview on how to force twigs and branches mixed with some of the science that drives it. I've posted this before, but its the right time of year to be thinking about it, besides, we're prolly itching for an excuse to get the pruners out!

Branches clipped from flowering trees and shrubs can easily be forced into bloom. Trees and shrubs that bloom early in the spring form flower buds the previous fall before dormancy. Successful forcing depends on the type of plant, cultivar, stage of dormancy, and temperature. Plants begin preparing for dormancy as soon as the length of night becomes longer than day length, around June 21. Most of you probably didn't know it's actually the increasing length of the NIGHT that moves plants toward dormancy, not decreasing day length (it's a technical issue). Changes in growth habits after the summer solstice include an increase in directing energy to newly forming buds and storing energy in roots and cambial tissues. As nights grow longer and temperatures fall, leaves drop and the plant is moved to dormancy. During true dormancy, the tree is in a deep state of rest and protected from cold. The mechanism by which the plant is released from it's dormant stage is an accumulation of chill units or roughly - hours of cold temperatures between freezing and 45* F. Different plants require different amounts of chilling, but most growing in MI need from 1000 - 2000 chill units (or hours). Once chilling, sufficient to release the plant from dormancy has occurred, the plant is capable of beginning growth - usually after several consecutive days of temperatures near 50*. By mid-January, most temperate plants have had sufficient chilling and are technically no longer dormant. This stage is often called a period of quiescence, or quiet. It is in this period that woody branches should be cut for forcing. Those that are cut too early will perform weakly with unimpressive displays.
Select the younger, more vigorous branches which will have a larger number of flower buds. Flower buds are usually larger and rounder than leaf buds. If you have trouble telling the difference, cut a few buds open and look for flower parts. Some fruit trees bear flowers on short fruit spurs. Watch for these on apples, pears, and ornamental crab apples. Select branches at least 12 inches long, and prune them flush with the trunk or main branch. By pruning small branches flush, the wound will heal over quickly, with little danger of insect or disease damage. Be sure to use sharp pruning shears or your concave bonsai cutters to minimize damage. Once the branches have been cut, bring them indoors and place the stem ends in water immediately; or better, totally submerge the branches in room-temperature water overnight. A washtub or bathtub works well for this. This soaking allows the branches and buds to begin to break dormancy. Following this, place the branches in a bucket of water. Water may need to be changed occasionally to prevent it from becoming foul. Another method, if soaking is not possible, is to place the cut ends of the branches directly into buckets of water and mist the branches frequently for the first few days. Better, would be to wrap a piece of damp burlap around the branches to help maintain high humidity.

After spraying or soaking, the branches are ready for forcing. The branches should be placed in a relatively cool place (60 to 65 degrees F.) to develop. Higher temperatures will cause the buds to develop more rapidly, but size, color, and quality of blooms might be sacrificed. Along with higher temperatures often goes lower humidity, which may cause buds to dry out and fall off. Branches need light for forcing, but not direct sunlight. Heat from direct sun is too intense. If you remember the springtime conditions when these plants bloom naturally, it will be easy to remember the conditions they need.

How can branches, completely isolated from roots, be forced to give up their blooms? As the plant goes from dormancy to quiescence, root activity increases and stored energy (photosynthate, in the form of starches) is moved upward where it adds to the concentration already stored at the base of each bud. As a water supply is introduced, a complicated chemical process begins, turning starch into usable energy. Turgidity increases, cells elongate & the bud opens.

To help the buds open and keep them from drying, mist the branches occasionally during the forcing period. The closer to spring that branches are forced, the shorter the time required until bloom. When the flower buds are well developed and starting to show color, remove the branches from the bucket and arrange them in your choice of container. Branches that are removed from the buckets at this stage are less likely to have bruised and broken flowers. Arranging the branches at this stage also allows the enjoyment of watching the flowers open. The branches should be kept in a bright, but not sunny location and will last longer if they can be moved to a cool (40 to 50 degrees F.) location at night.

Some common woody plants you can force:
Red Maple (& other maples)
Service berry
Witch Hazel

Use your imagination. Almost anything in the landscape that has showy blooms in the spring can be forced. This weekend is a perfect time to get outdoors & moving around ..... and thinking of SPRING! Have fun!


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