In a vase on Monday – I’m so happy, happy, happy!

As all of you who know me well, I love tulips!  Last autumn when I was ordering my tulips for the garden I decided to order some to try to force into flower for an early vase……………

…….and it worked!

I placed 25 bulbs in the fridge when they arrived and left them there for some weeks (I wish I remembered exactly how many weeks) and them planted them up and left them outside for a while and then brought them into the greenhouse before Christmas.


Tulip Brown Sugar

Tulip Brown Sugar

I have been watching and waiting, I won’t say patiently, until last week I saw the buds beginning to push up between the leaves.  I cut some them on Friday and brought them into the warm house and today they are in a vase, especially for Cathy at Rambling in the garden who challenges us each Monday to find material from our gardens to bring into the house to enjoy.


Tulip Brown Sugar

Tulip Brown Sugar


I’m not so sure about the shape of the vase but I didn’t have the shape I wanted.  Note to self – buy more vases!

Thank you Cathy for hosting and thinking up this meme because I’m sure that without you I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of planting these to force.  This is half of those I planted I will wait a few more days before picking the other half .

Now all I have to do is remember the exact timings and perhaps I can have weeks of early tulips next year – gardening is always about next year isn’t it?

Do visit Cathy to see what she and others have found this week.

Do any of you have any experience of forcing tulips, have you ever tried.  I’d love to know if there is a a specific time for chilling.  If they were as reliable as Paperwhites I’d fill every spare inch of the greenhouse with tulips!

57 thoughts on “In a vase on Monday – I’m so happy, happy, happy!

  1. The excitement in your post is so infectious Christina, I have never tried to force Tulips but reading of your success I shall try. The colour is gorgeous and I really like the shape of vase you have chosen too.

    • I think I sound so excited because it is the first time I’ve ever tried it and there wasn’t much information about it on the net so I am so pleased it worked. Brown sugar is one of my favourite tulips partly because it ‘dies’ really beautifully.

  2. Lovely vase of tulips; well done! The nearest I have come to forcing bulbs was trying to grow the little iris reticulata inside for an early flowering. I failed miserably; lots of leaves and no flowers! I think now that it was maybe the wrong compost – too rich maybe. So, is next week’s vase going to be be your tulips dying beautifully?

  3. Stunning tulip color and lovely vase…..Oh to have a greenhouse and force tulips as I can’t grow them reliably here due to weather and the deer who find them. But I love them….and hooray for you Christina! I did bury some in a container and buried that container in a big plastic trug and covered it with lots of leaf clippings to see if I could grow them in a container on the patio and keep the deer, squirrels and other tulip-loving critters away.

    Here I can only get my Hippeastrum bulbs to keep producing…the garden is buried under 5 ft of snow still but I have high hopes for some blooms finally in late March with a slow melt….I can wish!

    • I feel I am really using the greenhouse to advantage this year. I really hope I can find more information about the tulips or failing that I will keep better records next year and try various methods with the same varieties to try to discover what works. At least you have the beautiful Hippeastrum! I really can’t imagine 5 feet of snow!

  4. These are so charming Christina. Lovely, lovely color. So glad your experiment worked. I have a gift of tulip bulbs that have been in my fridge since Christmas. Maybe I could still get them planted and see some results.

  5. Pingback: In a vase on Monday: Heads and Tails | Rambling in the Garden

  6. Oh Christina – your excitement really shines through this post and thank you so much for implying that you were doing it for me…I am flattered 😉 I could not envisage the effects of this meme when I began it but it really has become habit-changing and I have learned so much – and from what others say it has done the same to them, meaning we really miss our vases if we are unable to post them for any reason. I am so pleased your experiment worked and I remember how much you enjoyed Brown Sugar last year. I somehow ‘forgot’ to pot up any tulips to keep in the greenhouse, even though I had bought some with the intention of doing so – but I hadn’t even considered the fridge treatment first. That’s a MUST for next season!! And of course your tulips are really gorgeous, whatever the shape of vase they are in 🙂

    • Of all the memes this is the most fun and somehow not competitive in the way I think GBBD has become. It has totally changed the way I think about growing flowers. I have never even wanted to force anything before, it always seemed so unnatural but for a vase it just makes sense. So good to extend the season I have another pot that I will take into the greenhouse now but I doubt it will flower much sooner than outside, although I might be wrong.

      • I would like to think it wasn’t at all competitive and always try to stress that plonking brings as much pleasure as a full-blown arrangement – and that plonking is something we can all do. I was sorry to read recently that some bloggers won’t look at GBBD posts because they feel they can’t compete with the number of blooms – and yet don’t we all just tell it as it is, so if we have blooms, we have blooms and if we don’t, we don’t?

        • I don’t think the vase meme is competitive. I am always inspired rather than deflated by what others use in their vases. I don’t join GBBD any more but not because I think it is competitive but I don’t find individual blooms all that interesting. To me a garden isn’t about single flowers or even single plants but about creating a space (large or small) that has an atmosphere, something that links it to its place. But I know not everyone thinks like that and that is also fine. There is space in the world for us all to be different and I think that is a very positive thing.

            • I agree with that and it is good that we don’t all blog for the same reasons. Variety is essential. I do regularly take an inventory of everything flowering for my own records. I suppose I also felt that Carol was using Bloom day to up her visitor figures without giving anything back; she admitted to rarely visiting any of the participating posts. Probably the whole thing just took off so that it became it bit out of control. With your meme I usually manage to visit all the other participants’ posts each week. I love seeing all the different approaches and learn and am inspired by them all.

            • I had noticed that I never got a return visit after my GBBD link but the connection with visitor figures never occurred to me. I still find it surprising that lots of people visit my blog, particularly after I blogged fairly privately for several months when I started 😉 It does take time to check out other posts when you host a meme but I make it a priority and love the surprise element, as well as the opportunity to learn and be inspired

            • I also enjoy reading what others have contributed to Foliage day and try hard to be available to respond to comments that day. My viewing figures for GBFD are always much higher than other days so (as usual) even though it is usually the faithful that comment and join in a lot of others must be interested.

  7. I have never thought of forcing tulips but now I wish that I had. These are so beautiful. I love Brown Sugar ,its a lovely strong garden tulip. In my garden, I am still at the stage of poking my fingers into the pots to see if anything is there! That’s between hail showers, natch.

    • The tulips in the garden mostly aren’t through here yet either. I have lots of T. Brown Sugar in the garden, as you say it is a good strong grower and repeat flowers for several years.

  8. Those tulips really are a lovely sight! That was a good idea to force them – I had never even thought of doing that. I think they look just right in that vase too. 🙂

    • I’ve never forced tulips or anything else for that matter, but worth some time in the fridge. I don’t think you need a greenhouse just a nice warm spot near a wall would probably work quite well.

  9. Beautiful, Christina! I love tulips and these are particularly nice. I wish I could grow them but, even with the requisite 6 weeks of chilling , inevitably a Santa Ana wind comes up here and takes the majority of them out before they even have a chance to bloom.

  10. Tulips! How elegant 😉 They are a sight for winter-sore eyes! I like them in this vase- it shows off their lovely stems and offers a very pure presentation. Congratulations on bringing them from bulb to bud 😉 Best wishes, WG

  11. I couldn’t help but smile as I read your first words–your joy is obvious a half a world away! My mother loved tulips too. I would always get them for her on her birthday (Feb 14) and sometimes on Mother’s Day, though often, I sprang for later spring flowers for that one.

    Yours are beautiful–enjoy them!!

    • It is one of the joys of blogging that we can share our joys, I’m pleased my enthusiasm crossed the ocean! The shops have had some tulips from Holland where they obviously force thousands of them, but I resisted buying them as they were already open and I knew they wouldn’t last long.

  12. Once again, you are providing inspiration. I always buy cut tulips, but they are never the interesting colors available as bulbs. You are so right about dying beautifully. I even savor the stamens (pistils?) after the petals have fallen. Vase vendors must be enjoying a surge as we all seek out more and more of them.
    Do you plant them out, and do they return?

    • The tulips planted in the garden mostly return each year, sometimes in pots they do but I think it is probably best to plant the entire pot out. In this case I cut the stem almost below the soil so there is no foliage so I don’t think the bulb will grow next year. Julie at Peonies and Posies pulls her bulbs out of the soil to give her very long stems and then just composts the bulbs.

  13. I can see why you’re so happy – such gorgeous tulips, and so early! Didn’t you do well? I was going to ask, how you knew how to force them, something I would never have thought about doing. I notice you found the info on the web. The colour is so beautiful and unusual – similar to “La Belle Époque” which I grew last year. I had every intention of lifting them to store overwinter, but I must confess to not getting around to it. Happily, I’ve just noticed them coming through in their pot from last year. I may, hopefully, have a repeat performance this year, after all!

    • I hope they do flower for you. Sometimes in a pot because they are planted so closely they slit and only produce foliage in the second year, but not always, it will also depend on how much water they received in summer, they prefer drought.

  14. It’s great to see the tulips, and they are a splendid colour! When I gardened in inner city Sydney (which is too warm for tulips) I invariably craved some, so I always had to keep them in the fridge for 6-8 weeks in the vegetable crisper, depending on the variety – trying to grow tulips in a climate like Sydney or L.A. is the equivalent of forcing them. If I placed the bulbs in the crisper in the last month of autumn, then the flowers would be ready by the first few weeks of spring; if I placed them in the crisper the moment the bulbs were available from the nursery – from early autumn onwards, then I could have mid-winter flowers, and so on…but the 6 week chilling was crucial 🙂

    • Thanks for that Matt, I think mine did have 6 weeks chilling. This will throw up another problem. I have my bulbs sent from the UK and ask for them to come as late as possible otherwise many start into growth too soon, but if I want to force more tulips I’d need some earlier. Maybe I’ll have to have two orders………

      • Do tulips naturalise if left in the ground over summer in Lazio? In that case, you could always dig up some of the bulb off-shoots, replant those for future border displays and force the older bulbs indoors…then again, it may be more fun to just get two orders 🙂

        • Yes they do. The ground is dry through the summer which is what they need so most re-flower for several years and a few reproduce so they increase. I think to have forced ones flower together for cutting I would need new bulbs though don’t you?

          • Now I’m jealous – here, with the damp summers they never really get past the 5 year mark before rotting….and after this soggy summer, even daffodils are rotting! Some of the grand gardens south of here – which are drier in summer so tulips can stay in the ground for many years – treat the old bulbs as being towards the end of their useful life. So in autumn, when they are dividing, they pull away the newer off-shoots to replant, and they force the oldest bulbs (which would be spent within a season or two) and let them go out with a last hurrah, so to speak…it’s a bit of work, but might be worth the effort for prized, hard-to-get cultivars, as it ensures new, healthy stock remains in the ground and the joy of early blooms can exist for the border or the house…that’s the theory anyway 🙂

  15. You did have quite a surprise waiting for us today. Great job!
    I think the color works even better in the vase than it does in the garden and it’s nice to think you’ll have an additional season again in a few more weeks. I’ve heard of prechilling bulbs but never knew it was as straightforward as keeping them in the fridge. I might have to try it myself!

  16. Gosh, what beautiful beautiful flowers. I did think about forcing tulips this year but eventually stuck with the old tried and tested tete a tete narcissi. It was lovely watching them grow and they are pretty enough, but the scent was disappointing (non-existent really). You’ve inspired me to definitely try tulips next year, instead.

  17. Pingback: In A Vase On Monday – Spring Bulbs | Peonies & Posies

  18. What a great idea Christina. I can see why you are so thrilled. How lovely to be able to have a vase of tulips so early, that you have grown yourself. I have never forced tulips but maybe next year I will have a go. I haven’ t come across Brown Sugar before. It is gorgeous.

  19. Yaaaaaay – you must be really chuffed Christina! I like the subtle hues of ‘Brown Sugar. I’ve never tried forcing tulips but have forced other bulbs. It’s great being able to enjoy them earlier in the season and being able to appreciate them at such close hand.

  20. I have enjoyed reading the comments here as much as the post, particularly about the beauty of flowers and competitive growing.and why we blog.
    I have never forced tulips, although after reading this I may well give it a go. I sometimes do the opposite and buy bowls of forced hyacinths and then put them in display positions outside where the flowering is held up and the show lasts longer. I do this because I love strong flower perfumes, but not indoors, and this way I can enjoy the scent when I go outside and the sight from the shelter of home. On the subject of perfume, Brown Sugar on a spring morning, with the sun warming it, is sweetly and beautifully perfumed.

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