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Pot up some bulbs for forcing

18 November 2014

Pot up some bulbs for forcing and you'll enjoy the delight of early flowers and scent filling the house in January and February next year.

Hyacinths are the traditional choice: you'll find some lovely varieties in your garden centre from azure 'Delft Blue' to fragrant white 'Carnegie'. And pots of paperwhite narcissi - tiny, delicate and fragrant winter-flowering daffodils - are also delightful cheering up a sunny windowsill when there's frost on the ground outside.

You can force ordinary garden bulbs into flower early, but they'll need at least 12 weeks below 10°C so it's a little late to start now. Instead, invest in some prepared bulbs which have been pre-chilled specially for forcing.

It's important to give your bulbs a little time in the cool and dark after you've potted them up. An unheated garage or shed is fine. Leave them in there, checking from time to time and watering sparingly to keep them damp, until the tips of the leaves are around 5cm above the compost.

Then move them somewhere bright but still cool - a greenhouse is ideal. Then, when the leaves reach 10cm high, bring them indoors and watch them erupt into flower.

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