Forcing Tulip Bulbs in Water

The tulip is a spring flower, but its bulb can be forced to blossom indoors in a container or vase of water. The method for doing this is simple and can be done as early as the winter season provided the bulb has access to a sunny window. The vases used are specially constructed to allow the bulb to force the green shoots, while not rotting away through constant exposure to water. Forced tulip bulbs can provide a pleasant spot of color during the winter, but keep in mind that forcing should not be done every winter season as this can take a toll on the bulbs themselves. If tulips become desirable each winter season, use new bulbs each time.

Tulip Bulb Vases

Tulip bulb vases resemble small vases but have a wide rim that is deep enough to hold the bulb in place. The vase is filled with warm tap water up to the rim. The bulb is then placed inside the vase with only the roots touching the water. The actual bulb does not have any direct contact with the water. The vase itself may be clear glass, or colored glass. Use one bulb per vase. If you have ten different tulip bulbs you want to force in water, purchase ten vases.

Forcing the Tulip Bulbs in the Vase

After each bulb is placed in its own vase of water, place the vases in a cool, dark room of the house, or a closet. The dark coolness act as the “earth”, causing the bulbs to react by sprouting forth the green shoots. Keep the vases in this environment for at least four weeks, then check to see if the roots have developed. The bulb should be slightly taller, indicating that the green shoots will be coming out soon. Check on the bulbs in the next several weeks to see if the shoots have already come out. Once the top of the bulb is visibly green, then it is time to remove the vases from the dark and place them in a sunny window.

Growing the Tulips in Water

Once the bulbs in each vase are placed in front of a sunny window, they will continue to grow inside the house. Keep the house at room temperature as the tulips will receive most of the required heat and sunlight through the window. When the flowers start to blossom, you can move the vases farther away from the window to allow for indirect sunlight. The tulips will blossom as fully as they would if planted outside during the spring season. The tulips can be cut and placed in a regular flower vase to add color to the dining room table in December or January. Once you have successfully forced tulip bulbs to grow in this manner, you can repeat the same procedure with daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, and amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs can be repeatedly forced during the cold months of the year, compared to other spring flower bulbs which cannot tolerate this growth pattern on a regular basis.