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Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

Posted by BeesNeeds 6 (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 18, 13 at 18:51

Help... I have several bags of tulip bulbs I picked up last fall so I can pot them up and hopefully get them to bloom for my wedding, which is the first weekend in May, about 75 days from now. I probably should have planned this wintersow much better, but honestly, I picked up the bulbs with a lot of other wedding prep sale stuff when things were on clearance last season, and lost track of them. I went through recently and resorted everything, and rediscovered the tulips.
I have several different bags, a couple of 20 countish of mixed kinds, some 5-10 countish of particular kinds, ranging from early bloom to late bloom. I also rediscovered two 40 count bags of grape hyacinths, but I don't know if those can be forced or not.

I have been keeping them stored in an insulated attached garage that sees low level light, and we have had a rather mild winter till the last month or so.

Now I need to start potting them up for forcing. My optimal of course would be for everything to be blooming, but I'm also happy with just foliage that is nice and lush and nothing is starting to fade off yet.
But I know nothing about tulips. How to force them, what does early, mid, and late season mean in relation to my timing... ugh.

To complicate all this. I would like to do this in a way that I can then use the potted tulips after the wedding as plant in plugs in different parts of the yard.

I do already have a lot of 8 and 10 inch pots, and some 12 inch pots and a lot of dirt to set things up. I also have a small stockpile of mesh onion and orange bags built up to make nets to line the pots with to help keep out the bulb eating critters for when I transplant. I have a three seasons porch with fine southeastern exposure. It's a high humidity porch, we have a small koi pond running year round in there.

Any suggestions or advice? Anything would be much appreciated!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

Tulips need to be fooled into thinking they have endured winter and spring has come. They need a period of cold before they will flower. This could be 8 weeks in the fridge or longer in a cold dark place. If your garage was cold and dark (40 - 45) all this time you might be lucky. If it was warm you don't have enough time to chill the bulbs. I would have a Plan B if I were you because forcing bulbs to a schedule is tricky.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

ok... I'm not positive just how cold it gets in the garage. Hadn't thought about that.

So will it hurt the bulbs to just pot them up, put them in the three seasons porch, and see what happens? I would still like them to survive planting in the yard after the wedding, even if they don't give me any blooms on time.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

As Flora said, tulips need 11-12 weeks of cool below 40 degrees to bloom. Then they need several weeks in the sunshine to bloom. I pot up mine in soil in early November, put them in the refrigerator and take them out in mid January. They are just on the bud now. Unless your garage was reliably at 40 degrees or below, I think you are out of luck for weddling tulips at this point. The foliage of forced tulips is not as lush as from in the ground bulbs.

If you really want tulips in bloom for your wedding, talk to a big florist or nursery that may have not have taken all of their tulips out of the frig right now (or it will be too late). If you buy them now, maybe they will hold them in the frig until April so you can have them in bloom.

Otherwise just plant your blubs out late this spring and wait until next spring for blooms.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

One way to force outside is to place the bulbs in the pots facing inwards slightly and close together. They should be under the soil somewhat. After watering thoroughtly place the potted plants into brown tall boxes to accommodate the foliage. The closed boxes are placed outdoors covered with insulation ie, leaves or crumpled newspaper. When the pots have a root structure coming out of the bottom allow light to force the plants into blooming. I can't remember exactly how long this takes -but I am betting you can figure it out. I liked this method. You might also fertilize with a bloom builder when you alllow light to start the blooming process.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

One way to force outside is to place the bulbs in the pots facing inwards slightly and close together. They should be under the soil somewhat. After watering thoroughtly place the potted plants into brown tall boxes to accommodate the foliage. The closed boxes are placed outdoors covered with insulation ie, leaves or crumpled newspaper. When the pots have a root structure coming out of the bottom allow light to force the plants into blooming. I can't remember exactly how long this takes -but I am betting you can figure it out. I liked this method. You might also fertilize with a bloom builder when you alllow light to start the blooming process.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

I want to add that the method I posted will probably work the best for you but I want to add that not all tulips are good for forcing. Something I read said that it might be quicker to force later in the season (winter). I would get pronto potting those pots out in brown (think grocery store boxes) ASAP. Your bulbs are probably pre-chilled from being in the garage so I would think it would be time to pot and let grow.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

Well crumbcakes, I spoke with my love and he said he doesn't think the attached garage held below 45 during the season, in part because a lot of the season was fairly mild so far till the last month or so.

so, looks like I might try to pot them up and see what happens, but I'm not too hopeful about the whole thing now :(

I do have some plan B- Lots of little pots of herbs and catgrass and some marigolds- all of which are going to be wedding favors... and I have a neighbor I should be able to get some forsythia branches from for some blooms.
Then again, maybe I will luck out and the weather will have been nice enough that there will be a goodly amount of wildflowers in bloom then.

Thanks for the advice everyone!


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

By the way, I saw a number of auctions for pre chilled tulip bulbs on Ebay

Here is a link that might be useful: pre chilled tulip bulbs


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

If you do the method outdoors in the boxes and crumpled newspaper you should be successful.


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RE: Forcing tulips in 75 days for my wedding? Help!

If you do the method outdoors in the boxes and crumpled newspaper you should be successful.


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Successful forcing in 45 days!

Just an update...

I potted up the bulbs on March 19th. It was really too chilly before then to really try forcing them.
I potted them up in the 8 and 10 inch pots with potting soil. I only filled the pots 3/4 of the way full. Packed in my bulbs pretty close- the 8 inch pots got 7 each, and the 10 inch got 12-15 each.
I skipped any mesh- found out my ground critters weren't the tulip eating kind.
I set them up at first at the south windows in the three seasons porch, then moved them under the central skylight a month later when most of them had a couple inches worth of green showing and displaying daily tilt.
On the first weekend in May, the earliest of them was just starting to drop off bloom, the latest of them was just about to pop. All of them had lovely greenery and a bloom or two going on.
The grape hyacinths I gave the same treatment for, I packed them into some recycled fresh mushroom bins. They were fully bloomed by a month later, and almost blown by the weekend.

I planted in the bricks of hyacinths into their border at the end of april, with the daffs in their mixed bloom looked lovely.
Planted in all the tulips along about 35 feet of fenceline in a shallow 2 foot border, they seem to be doing well there so far, nothing seems to be eating them yet.

I don't think I lost any hyacinths in the transplanting so far, I didn't break them up, just planted them in as bricks. Most of the tulips fared well. Lost several Shirley and Orange Queen, they didn't like potting too much. I planted the not quite dead seeming bulbs in anyway, hoping for next year. I gently broke apart the pots into separate bulbs for the border, and several of them already had babies separating off of them shooting up their own greens.

I wasn't sure if the insulated garage would have gotten cold enough or not, but apparently so- it also came on fairly quickly after my initial post a seriously deep cold and then real chilly snap, don't know if that helped or not.


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