Keep your restless green thumb busy, no matter the weather, when you grow a flower garden inside by forcing spring bulbs to bloom. From daffodils and hyacinths to irises and tulips, the bright colors and sweet scents cheer up any gardener dealing with winter cabin fever. Just follow these simple steps to grow flowers indoors in winter:
Step 1. Pot the Bulbs
Fill a container most of the way with moist potting mix, or pebbles if you’re planting hyacinths and paperwhites. Create a shallow hole for each bulb and plant it root side down, 1 to 2 inches deep, leaving the tip exposed. Crowd the bulbs in, but keep them from touching one another. (Read more: How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter in Two Days)
Step 2. Cool Them Down
If your bulbs aren’t pre-chilled, place the pot in a dark, cool spot, such as a garage, unheated sun porch or fridge. Keep them at a chilly 35 to 45 degree Fahrenheit. This process takes about 12 weeks to complete, but less for certain iris bulbs. (Read more: Top 10 Winter Blooms for Your Flower Garden)
Step 3. Keep Tabs on Them
Make sure the potting mix stays moist, watering gently as needed. The first flower tips appear within a few weeks. Once the emerging sprouts are an inch high, move the container into a cool, dim room for about a week as the stems and flower buds continue to grow.
Step 4. Add Some Light
Transfer the potted bulbs into a bright room; this will encourage them to bloom. Continue to water occasionally to ensure the soil stays damp. If the stems become tall or top-heavy, insert a slender stake into the pot. Then, sit back and enjoy!
Step 5. Stage a Comeback
When the blooms fade, you have two options: Compost the spent bulbs or try to save them for spring. If you’re going for a repeat performance, allow the foliage to die back, then plant the bulbs outdoors in spring as you normally would. Be prepared for the flowers to take a year off while they recover from their unexpected season. (Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Planting Spring Bulbs)
Bonus! Get Waterwise
Skip the soil and force crocuses and hyacinths to sprout in water. Use a narrow-necked vase that holds the bulb just above the waterline. Then, put in a cool, dark place until roots fully form. After sprouts are 2 to 4 inches tall, move to a warm, sunny room to finish flowering.