To force bulbs successfully a storage area with temperatures between 35 and 48 degrees will be needed. Put the soil mix containing no fertilizer in clean, drained pots. Handle the bulbs carefully and keep them well ventilated. If stored in a paper bag, keep the bag open to allow air circulation. Store at temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees but below 63 degrees.
Plant any time between October 1st and December 1st. For late flowering, plant late; for early flowering, plant early. Give planted bulbs 13 to 14 weeks of 35 to 48 degrees. Prior storage time at temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees can be deducted from the 14 week storage period. Bulbs planted October 1st are ready to force into bloom in late January.
Loosely fill the pot with enough soil so the bulb tops are even with the top of the pot. Use the following number of bulbs for a 6 inch pot: tulips, 6 bulbs; hyacinths, 4 bulbs; daffodils, 6 bulbs; and crocus, 15 bulbs. Plant tulip bulbs with the flat side facing the outside of the pot. Do not press the bulbs into the soil. Bulbs root best when the soil beneath them is loose. Fill the pot to within 1/4 inch of the top so the plants can be more easily watered. Label each pot with the variety and planting date.
After potting, place the pots in a storage area at 35 to 48 degrees. Water the pots well and do not allow them to dry out during the storage period. Any storage method may be used so long as the temperature and moisture can be maintained. Types of storage used are vegetable or unheated cellars, cold frames, trenches next to a building, or for small numbers of pots, a refrigerator. Cold frames or trenches should not receive heat from buildings. Bulbs stored in a cold frame or trench are covered once they have been watered. Materials used include sand, peat, perlite, sawdust and woodchips. Plant at least 3 weeks prior to hard freezes when outdoor storage is used.
After 13 weeks in storage, the bulbs may be forced into bloom. October 1st plantings may be taken into the house right after Christmas. Bring in a few pots at weekly intervals for continuous bloom. Give the plants 60 degrees and direct sunlight. Three to four weeks are required to bring the plants into bloom. Fertilization is not necessary. To save forced bulbs, continue to water after blooming and provide a well lit growing area until the foliage turns brown. The bulbs may be set in the garden in late summer or early fall.