Do you want to have beautiful daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowers this spring but don’t have space in your yard? Or maybe you have some pesky animals that love to dig up your bulbs all winter long. Try moving your bulbs indoors! With this “How To Plant Bulbs” technique you can grow lovely pots of spring flowers early in the season and display them indoors or out as early as Valentine’s day!

How to Plant Bulbs Indoors

Growing bulbs indoors to coax them into bloom often only requires 12 weeks of chilling to break their cycle of dormancy. These include crocus (especially the large-flowered types), hyacinths, and miniature hybrid daffodils. Two other small ones would be the grape hyacinth and miniature iris, but they need 16 weeks of chilling. No matter how long the chilling, allow another 3 or 4 weeks for the blooms to appear afterwards.

All you need to chill a bulb is a cool place that you’re sure will hover around 40 degrees, such as a refrigerator or cool basement or garage; and, of course, bulbs and pots with drain holes.

Before you chill, put a two-inch layer of potting soil in the bottom of a pot, then position the bulbs on top of the soil. Make sure their tops are a bit below the final soil line when they’re covered. Pack the bulbs in tightly – especially the tiny guys – for a full gorgeous pot in the Spring. Next, fill in around them with more potting soil, water well, and place the pots where they can chill for the required number of weeks. By the way, you have to pot them up – naked bulbs will not grow the required roots to bloom in Spring!

At the end of ‘chilling time’, water the pots well and place them in a spot with good indirect light and temps in the low 60s for a week or so. Then, when the shoots are a few inches tall, move the pots into bright light and higher temperatures around (68 degrees) until the flowers begin to open. Finally, move them back into indirect light again to keep the flowers fresh the longest possible time. If you have outdoor display space, go ahead and put your forced pots outside after the risk of a really hard freeze has passed.

Enjoy your early blooming bulbs!

Bulbs: Dig, Drop, Done!

A fellow garden center, Echter’s in Denver, described their bulb season as “dig, drop, done.” We would have to agree with that. Bulbs really are little work compared to the joy and benefit you receive from them. The biggest issue is timing…plant early. Daffodils and tulips come up in early spring.

We dig one large hole, put 8 to 10 bulbs in it, fertilize, add bone meal, cover it up–and vooiiiillaaaa, a large showy cluster of flowers will brighten up our yard in February and March. Of course you can dig more than one hole and, depending on the size of the hole, you can get more than 8 bulbs in the hole. the point is to make it easy for you. Remember…Dig (the hole) Drop (the bulb) and Done!

Our selections are always best at the beginning of the planting season, so drive by our Portland garden center today to find the most varieties available. If you are a long time bulb planter, try something new this year. New varieties are a lot of fun to add to your palette.

Should I Use Bone Meal or Bulb Food When Planting Bulbs?

We recommend bone meal at the time of planting bulbs, later applying a balanced bulb food once the foliage appears above the soil line in late winter/early spring.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Nitrogen can burn the actual bulb, which only needs the phosphorus and potash from bone meal in order to stimulate rooting. But once the bulb is sending out a stem, it needs nitrogen to become strong so it won’t bend over from the weight of the flowers it sets. This is especially important for bulbs with large heavy flowers, such as tulips, ranunculus, and hyacinth.

It’s also important to dig your holes or trenches a little deeper than the bulb needs to be. Apply some bone meal, then a little more soil, then the bulb so the bulb doesn’t sit directly on the food but has access to the food as it sends out roots (got to give those roots some incentive to stretch).

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.