Force Bulbs Indoors with Water Crystals

One of life’s simple pleasures is upcyling. Saving something from the landfill is a noble effort. Repurposing things from your house or items you find at a secondhand store can be a rewarding experience.

Forcing bulbs is a fun wintertime project that makes use of containers of any shape and size. Gardeners plant bulbs in the late fall before the ground freezes. The plants sprout some roots and then go dormant until the warm weather arrives in spring. You can trick the plants and force them into blooming inside during the winter instead though. These blooms bring a refreshing beauty to the blustery season, and they can provide one of a kind holiday gift items.

Instead of soil, we used Water Beads (aka Orbeez, which are available in the floral arrangement section of garden centers or craft stores). After soaking in water the sand grain pellets swell up to hydrated marbles. These make watering an especially easy task.

After letting the water beads hydrate, the project was a simple task that took about thirty minutes.


  • Water
  • Water Beads
  • Containers
  • Bulbs
  • Aluminum Foil


1. Soak your beads

You’ll want to soak your water beads for about 3-4 hours to give them time to expand. Then fill your garden container with the beads.

2. Place your bulbs.

You’ll want to put the bulbs just below the top surface of the water beads, pointy end up. Cover the containers lightly with a foil or plastic, and store in the refrigerator.

3. Check in every once in a while.

Check the water levels every few days. You want to keep the water beads full of fluid. Depending on the species you’ve planted they’ll need to stay in the cold for a few weeks. An online search will help you determine the timing for each species. (Note you can force paperwhites and amaryllis without a cold period, but most others will need some refrigerator time.)

4. Get ready for blooms.

When the time is right, you’ll remove the bulbs from the refrigerator. The sudden warmth with force them into blooming.


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