Most spring bulbs need to be chilled before you can force them to bloom inside during the winter, but both amaryllis and paperwhites will bloom without chilling the bulbs. They can often be purchased in stores in a kit with either a pot and peat moss or a glass container with decorative rocks or stones.
Growing the kit is easy. Simply place the bulbs (with the pointed end facing upward) in the growing medium, water to moisten the soil and place them in a sunny location. If you are growing them in a decorative container or vase with stones or glass nuggets, put the stones in the bottom of the container and nestle the bulbs into the stones. Add water until it barely touches the bottom of the bulb. Keep the water level below the bulbs. Bulbs that sit in water will rot.
I typically grow my paperwhites in a tall vase and set them in the bottom on the stones. The stems of the paperwhite plants will grow inside the vase holding the blooms above the top of the vase. This provides support for the stems and prevents them from flopping over if they get too tall.
Some bulbs require chilling
Other spring bulbs, like dwarf iris, tulips and larger daffodils can be forced into bloom in the winter, too, but they require chilling first.
If you have a location such as a basement or garage that remains between 40 and 50 degrees, you are in luck. Otherwise you may need to chill your bulbs in the refrigerator — but that can get tricky, too. If you chill your bulbs in the fridge, do not keep fruit in the fridge. Ripening fruit gives off ethylene gas which will interfere with blooming.
Chilling them outside is pots in another option, but make sure the bulbs do not freeze. Placing them in pots and covering them with leaves or hay or keeping them in an unheated greenhouse until you are ready to force the bulbs will also work.
The length of time for chilling bulbs varies, but 14 to 16 weeks appears to be the average for most bulbs.
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