Tulip forcing in the fridge

evaldasMarch 24, 2011

I live in Lithuania (Europe). We have very cold winters here, sometimes we get as cold as -13F (-25C), this winter it snowed at the end of November and melted just now (we still have some snow). Tulips are very popular grown outside here, but I would like to know if it's possible to force them into bloom and how to do it for example for Christmas if your only option is the refrigerator? I also have a balcony, but sometimes when it's very cold outside (like -13F) it can get as low as 14F (-10C) in the balcony, so I don't think it's a good option for tulip dormancy there...

I'm currently reading a book about tulip growing in Lithuania, it also has some information about forcing, but it's so technical, very hard to follow. It says something about the plants rooting in the temperature of 9-20C, then having to move them to 5C, then to 0-2C etc. I don't have so many options, I assume the book is written for commercial growers with special rooms, and equipment. But I want tulips in pots, because it looks "exotic", especially on Christmas.

I do have grow lights so vegetative growth in winter would be no problem...

I measured yesterday the temperature in my fridge and it was about 44.6F (7C)

What are my odds? What should be my schedule if, for example, I want tulips in pots for Christmas?

Can I just plant the bulbs into pots at the end of summer, put them in the fridge, water them sometimes, take them out in December and voila? Or it isn't this simple?

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gardengal48

Can I just plant the bulbs into pots at the end of summer, put them in the fridge, water them sometimes, take them out in December and voila? Or it isn't this simple?

It's darn close :-) Tulips need a chill period of 6-8 week (or more), so you want to plan ahead for at least that much time in the refrigerator. After that chill period, the potted bulbs are brought out into the warmth of the house, given bright light and should produce foliage followed by blooms. I'd allow another 3-4 weeks minimum for this to happen. If it is easier, the bulbs can be chilled before planting or potting up, although there may be a delay in root formation that could extend the forcing period.

Remember that fruits and certain vegetables in the refrigerator can emit ethylene gas that will prevent or abort the flowering of bulbs. Make sure that potted or stored bulbs are kept away from any other produce.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:06PM
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denninmi(8a)

Those "greenbag" produce bags help to block ethylene gas -- seal your pots of bulbs into those and it will help ensure no problems from the produce. They sell them at most grocery stores now. Kroger stores here are now actually using this type of bag in their produce department, so they are sort of semi-free for the taking -- I often double bag my proudce to get a few extra to store produce in.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 7:44PM
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evaldas

Thanks, I'm definitely trying it this year ;)!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 8:18AM
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evaldas

Hmmm, the book I'm reading about tulips says that ethylene has little effect on tulips (or their bulbs) when temperatures are below 13*C, and big impact when it's 17-23*C

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 3:21PM
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