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Edition 32 - November 2023
Spring Begins Now with Forced Bulbs

Blooming pots of brightly colored bulbs make a fabulous addition to a winter-weary home, reminding us that days of sunshine, warmth, and gardening are soon to come.

Forcing spring bulbs is a straightforward process that may begin anywhere from as much as twenty-five to as little as three weeks before desired blooms. Of course, the timing is bulb-specific. If you find that you have missed the window of opportunity for forcing some bulbs, no worries; select a substitute from our chart below that requires less time to flower. It’s also a good idea to mark your calendar now to avoid missing the forcing time needed for your favorites next year.

Forcing Bulbs in 10 Easy Steps
  1. Count backward, from the desired bloom date, the number of weeks required for blooming plus the number of weeks required for cooling. This is the planting date. 

  2. Select a container that is at least twice as tall as the unplanted bulbs and has drainage holes. There is an exception for paperwhites that you plan to grow in stone. These should be placed in a container without drainage holes.

  3. Fill enough of your container with Bar Harbor Blend™ Potting Soil so that when the bulb is placed on top of the soil, the tip of the bulb sits slightly above the lip of the pot.

  4. Place your bulbs on top of the soil. Keep them close without allowing them to touch each other or the container.

  5. Continue to fill in the area between the bulbs with the potting soil up to or slightly below the lip of the container.

  6. Water them gently, allowing the excess to drain.

  7. Refrigerate potted bulbs for the appropriate amount of time. Check frequently and water as necessary to keep the soil moist.

  8. Gradually acclimate planted bulbs to a warm, bright location when their required cooling time has been completed. 

  9. Keep the bulbs out of direct sun and in a cool location when the bulbs finally flower. This will prolong the blooms.

  10. Rotate the container frequently to produce straight stems.

Coast of Maine – Bar Harbor Blend™ Potting Soil

For bulb forcing, a high-quality, nutrient-dense, well-draining potting soil is recommended. That’s where our Bar Harbor Blend™ comes in. Potting soil doesn’t get any better than this! Our all-purpose potting soil is a nutritious blend of sphagnum peat moss and compost. The added perlite assists with drainage, and the lobster shell and kelp meal are a perfect combination of ingredients to fortify your bulbs. No need for additional fertilizer when forcing spring bulbs with Bar Harbor Blend™ Potting Soil!



Hardy Bulbs, like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and such, cannot be forced a second time. After they are through flowering, cut back the flower stems and place your container in full sun. Continue to water until the foliage turns brown. When the foliage is completely spent, stop watering and place the container in a cool, dry, and dark environment until early next fall, when the bulbs may be safely planted into the garden. These bulbs may skip a year of flowering but eventually return to their former beauty and regular bloom schedule.

Paperwhites are tender bulbs and will not bloom a second time. They should be discarded after forcing.

Amaryllis are best treated as a houseplant after they flower. Their spent flower stalks should be cut back with the foliage left intact. These tropical bulbs will require adequate light, water, and fertilizer until they may be safely placed outside for the summer months. In late summer or early fall, stop watering amaryllis and let the soil in the pot dry out completely. Bring the dry pot inside to a cool and dark spot to allow the bulb to rest for at least two months before beginning the forcing process again.


Visit your local garden center to pick out your favorite bulbs, containers, and, of course, a bag of Bar Harbor Blend™ Potting Soil.

Here’s to an early spring!

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