Martha Stewart forced her bulbs to grow before spring – and she's inspired us to do the same

Pre-spring blooms are more accessible than they seem – this is how to trick time, the Martha Stewart way

Martha Stewart
(Image credit: GettyImages)

If you find yourself craving the sweet scent of a spring bulb in midwinter, you're certainly not alone. In fact, you're in great company.  

Businesswoman Martha Stewart, who is best known for founding her eponymous homecare empire, recently shared her 'well-behaved' plants on Instagram, and sure enough, they were blooming beautifully. Her post is a reminder that it is possible to trick your bulbs into thinking that spring is on its way – the secret is in knowing how to force bulbs correctly.

'My houseplants are behaving wonderfully this year. Orchids, including giant lady slippers and Madagascar beauties, are blooming successively, and the forcing of bulbs from amaryllis and narcissus to now hyacinths is on track – keeping scented beauty everywhere one looks,' Martha says. 'Thanks, Christopher Spitzmiller, for the white forcing bowls.'

When choosing the best winter house plants for your home, it's natural to look for those that will breathe some life (and color) into the darkest season on the calendar. However, if you follow Martha Stewart's lead, you can enjoy some of your favorite spring bulbs indoors too – and feel as celebratory as her at the time-tricking results. 

To maximize success, it's worth investing in forced or ‘prepared’ bulbs, available from Amazon. These have been through a chilling process so that they start blooming earlier than they normally would. Then, if you want to force bulbs similarly to Martha, gardening expert, Beth Murton, says you need to consider the depth of your container wisely. 

'When forcing bulbs indoors, you can use most containers, but how deep it needs to be will depend on the type of bulbs you are forcing and how big they are,' Beth says. 

'As a general rule, however, you should aim for a minimum of two inches of soil below the planted bulb, even in a shallow bowl. It's also worth remembering that once your bulbs start to grow in height, they can become quite top-heavy, so a planter that has some weight to it, such as a ceramic design – like the white ones Martha Stewart uses – rather than plastics – is ideal to avoid them toppling over.' 

Martha Stewart

(Image credit: GettyImages)

While planting bulbs in the way Martha has done might sound somewhat complicated, Drew Swainston, a former professional gardener and content editor for Homes & Gardens, says the process is actually refreshingly straightforward. 

'Don't be nervous about planting too many bulbs in the same container,' he says. 'When growing bulbs indoors in this way, you can crowd the bulbs together much closer than you would when planting them outside. Small bulbs can be less than one inch apart, and the pot will look best when packed with bulbs.' 

And, of course, if Martha Stewart thinks it's a good idea, we're certainly not going to disagree. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.