Florals? In Winter? Groundbreaking

This doesn’t have to be the winter of your discontent. Bring the outdoors in for beautiful blooms all year long.

Often used in holiday decor, the amaryllis has large statement blooms. The flowers come in several colors ranging from solid reds to striped whites, like these blooms.

Although we celebrate the changing colors of fall each year, saying goodbye to our outdoor plants can be bittersweet. When it comes to extending the life of our beautiful spring blooms, we have good intentions, but there’s always next year, right?

If you’re used to relaxing your green thumb standards with the nip of first frost, hold off a little bit and satisfy your gardening itch a little longer. It is possible to have sunny blooms indoors all winter by cultivating your own beautiful blooms indoors. Forcing, or coaxing, bulbs simply means tricking certain plants into blooming out-of-season. “Some of the most popular and easy bulbs to force are paperwhite narcissus, amaryllis and hyacinths,” says Debra Burgess, owner of Springfield’s Flora and Fern.


Where to start

Bulbs can be purchased locally or online. Hyacinths must go through a cold snap, or “fake winter,” lasting two to three months before planting. The cold snap can be spent in the crisper drawer of your fridge or in a cold garage. “Generally speaking, chill in October, bloom in February,” Burgess advises.

Paperwhites and amaryllis stem from the tropics and don’t need the cold. Additional fun fact: paperwhites love vodka! When the roots begin growing and the green top shoots are 1 to 2 inches tall, pour off existing water and replace with a 7-to-1 water-to-vodka solution. Use this solution for future watering. This makes your paperwhites grow to only half their usual height, but the flowers will be normal-sized and last just as long. Paperwhites are top-heavy, so the reduced height is beneficial.


How to plant

Any type or size of container can be used, including clay, brass or glassware. Tall cylinder vases work well for amaryllis and paperwhites. Layer the bottom with 2 inches of pebbles, gravel or marbles. Settle your bulbs on top and fill with enough pebbles to hold, but not cover, bulbs. Add water until it reaches the bottom of the bulb. “Tying with raffia or ribbon helps with tall floppy ones,” says Becky Nicholas of Wickman’s Garden Village. “Their floppiness is telling you that they know where the sunlight is, and they’re determined to reach out and grab it.” By following proper care, you’ll see roots in a few days and flowers in a few weeks.

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