Much as we absolutely love living in Florida, there's some small part of us that misses the traditional signs of spring from up north. Starting with crocus and forsythia, through daffodils and tulips, to the ultimate fireworks of hundreds of flowering trees, spring up north seems desperate to display as much color and brilliance as quickly as possible once the grip of winter finally loosens. Here in Florida, there's no need for desperate displays, of course, but we can't help but miss some of those traditional spring flowers. So, this year, we decided to force some spring bulbs, including tulips.
Tulips and other traditional spring bulbs require a dormant season in low soil temperatures, much lower than our ground temperature ever reaches here in Central Florida. In order to force them to bloom, it's necessary to mimic those conditions.
Back around Thanksgiving, we potted up six tulip bulbs and some grape hyacinth bulbs that we ordered from American Meadows, a popular bulb company. Per the instructions we found on the internet, we used soil-less potting mix and packed the pots full of bulbs; then we popped them into the crisper drawer in the fridge.
We left them in the fridge for a couple of months, until we noticed that a bit of fungus was growing on top of the soil. At this point, we thought perhaps we'd messed up the process, and just put the pots out on the porch and decided we'd see what happened. Within a week or so, green shoots started to appear, and within a month, we had tulip blooms!
We only planted half a dozen bulbs (this was really just a bit of an experiment this time around), and so far we've had pink (forgot to get pictures of that one), yellow, and red, with a few more buds starting to appear. When the bulbs are done flowering, there won't be any point in saving them for next year - the bulbs used up all their stored nutrients in the forcing process, and can't be forced again next year.
The grape hyacinths are starting poke up some bloom stalks now, so it seems our forcing experiment was more or less a success. It's nice to have a bit of northern spring here in My Florida Backyard while still enjoying the warm weather of February in the south!