A Breath of Spring

Bring the beauty of the outdoors inside.

This time of year, a dose of spring is a good thing. Unfortunately, the weather is rarely ready to cooperate, and flowers are not always forthcoming. The solution is as simple as a trip to the grocery store or nearest plant shop.

Forced bulbs take center stage. Daffodils in all sizes and shapes bring sunshine indoors. Choose big-blossomed selections such as 'Dutch Master' or 'King Alfred' for a large display. On a smaller scale, miniature 'Tête à Tête' narcissus are laden with blooms. Hyacinths spread their heady perfume from room to room, and usually, one bulb is plenty. If the container you chose has more, gently divide them and replant in smaller pots. The bulbs and blooms won't suffer from being disturbed. Spread them throughout the house, or share with a friend. You may also enjoy another relative, the petite grape hyacinth. This blue-flowered bulb looks lovely in a basket with tiny daffodils and does not have a strong hyacinth scent.

For the longest bloom time, purchase plants with buds and healthy, dark green foliage. Care for these springtime flowers is easy. Most containers are packed with bulbs, and the planting medium dries out quickly. Keep soil moist; small pots may require water every day. Soak them thoroughly, and drain well.

There is a bonus to buying forced bulbs. Enjoy their flowers indoors, and when the danger of frost has passed, plant them in your garden for future blooms. To store bulbs, remove faded flowers, and leave all foliage intact. Put the pots in a cool, out-of-the-way place, and water the bulbs occasionally to prevent them from dehydrating. When the weather and soil warm, plant in the garden, and allow the foliage to die before removing.

Cool And Colorful
The jewel-tone blossoms of primroses can brighten a windowsill or illuminate a basket on the breakfast table. Pair them with blooming bulbs for a burst of spring, or place one fabulous flowering plant in an oversize teacup for a simple statement.

Purchase plants with a few open blooms to determine color, and look down into the rosette for additional buds. Choose plants with healthy, lush green foliage, avoiding those with yellow leaves.

Care is simple, and primroses are forgiving. Soil must be kept moist, or the plant will wilt and the leaves yellow. If you forget to water and discover a badly wilted plant, don't despair. Place the primrose in the sink, in a saucer of tepid water. Allow the soil to rehydrate from the bottom, and then place the plant in a very cool place to recover. (We're gone so far as to revive a badly wilted plant in the refrigerator.)

Not unlike forced bulbs, a primrose's place is usually in the crisp spring garden. When used indoors, it will last longest if kept cool. Consider moving these flowers to an unheated garage or storage area at night or during the day when you're not at home. Primroses love a sunny spot and will bloom for weeks on end outdoors. A proper environment reduces the need for watering, and maintenance becomes less demanding.

Reasonably priced and full of color, these plants are a breath of fresh air, guaranteed to give you a lift.