Forced to bloom

Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.
William Arthur Ward

(ariel view of a tiny grape hyacinth preparing to bloom, Julie Cook / 2014)

Just as life appears to be overrun with dull wet grey skies, dirty melting slushy snow and the dead crunchy brown sodded lawns of a winter’s harsh ways— tiny miracles are mysteriously arriving in stores far and wide. Joy abounds walking into the grocery store and local home improvement store as our poor sensory deprived eyes are met with exciting tiny botanical treasures.

Brown bumpy lumpy tubers known as bulbs have been secretly and silently doing their thing, hidden away in some cool dark place of mystery, for about 10 weeks. The roots are now taking hold as stems shoot skyward, topped off with a variety of buds chomping at the bit to explode into a dazzling display of early color. These buds, which are tentatively perched atop long narrow stalks, are getting ready to sprout forth with colorful gems offering heavenly scents and pleasing sights. Be it hyacinth, iris, tulip, paperwhite, amaryllis or daffodil, the forcing bulbs have arrived.


It seems this little habit of “forcing” bulbs to bloom indoors, long before the true flowering season out of doors takes a more natural route, came about in the 1600’s, most likely in the Netherlands–later becoming all the rage in the Victorian days of the 1800’s. Apparently not all households could afford fresh flowers making bulbs, and “forcing” them to bloom, a much more affordable choice.

So if you’re finding these chilly days just a bit too much, so much so that perhaps the sight of a little color coupled by a most beneficial springlike scent added to a heat imposed house would put a wee spring to your step, then may I suggest gathering a tiny forcing vase filled with your bulb of choice


If you would like to try your own hand at this most user friendly growing technique, I did read that it does require some time in which to prepare the bulb—letting it perch over a bit of water or placed in a planting medium, allowing it to then “chill”, literally, at a constant temperature of 48แต’ in a dark out of the way spot, say the basement or attic. This hyacinth was afforded 10 weeks of sitting and chilling before it’s roots descended and its bloom shot skyward. It is at this point that they arrive in the stores.

Once brought out to the warmer, lighter world of home or office, the real beauty takes place as these hardy little tubers suddenly become show stoppers bursting forth with color and scent—reminding all of us that thankfully Spring is just weeks away.

6 comments on “Forced to bloom

  1. claire46 says:

    I love hyacinths. My father used to offer them to my mother at this time of the year. So, I buy them as well when I happen to be in the right part of the world for this ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I just bought some in the grocery store last week, but I decided this yeat to try it myself. I did go a bit overboard and almost bought more bulbs than I had room for but I did manage to get all of them along one shelf in my greenhouse. I chilled them for weeks in the fridge like they said I should and now they are either in potting soil or water like these and I can hardly wait to see how many of them grow and bloom. Blessings, Natalie ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Just read your post for the evening—there is something indeed magical about the evening and the moon. . .we’re shocked in tonight with rain and fog—I think we will simply wash away

      • Our fog was gone this morning but it was cloudy until after noon. Then the sun came out and we got to 69. What a surprise of loveliness it was and what a treat to even see the moon after days and days of grayness. I so sorry you are still in the gray zone. I hope soon that it moves off and you can see the sun again for awhile. Love and hugs, Natalie ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sweet…I forced a bunch of bulbs this year too, they are all gone now. I received my order of Oriental Lily bulbs yesterday and hope to get them planted next week if the rain stops. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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