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Saving forced bulbs

If you receive potted spring-flowering bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, as winter gifts, you may want to plant them in the garden in spring. However, it often takes two to three years for bulbs to rebloom after they have been "forced" for indoor use. Before starting, consider whether it's worth the effort.

Forced BulbIf you want to try, start by keeping the plants actively growing until the leaves mature and die back naturally. To prevent seeds from forming, remove the flowers after they bloom. Place the potted plants in a cool, very sunny location and keep the soil moist to the touch. Fertilize with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer according to label directions. The longer the leaves stay green and healthy, the larger the bulb will become. This improves its chances for blooming the following year.

When leaves dry down, store the bulbs in a dark, cool place until fall planting time. Because few homes have a good storage place, it may be better to directly plant the bulbs outdoors. If the leaves have died back, plant bulbs outdoors when the soil is workable. If the leaves have not died back, wait until after the last frost to plant the bulbs with their leaves. When planting bulbs in fall that have been stored through the summer, discard bulbs that are soft or diseased.

Care for the bulbs outdoors as you would other spring bulbs. With luck, they'll bloom again -- eventually.

For "Bulbs: bed preparation" refer to message number 1007.
For "Bulbs: maintaining" refer to message number 1010.


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Updated Wednesday, July 30, 2014