Sometimes the gray skies of winter seem to linger forever. If you're longing for spring, enjoy a few of your favorite blossoms indoors. This time of year, it's easy to buy bulbs in pots ready to bloom, so make the jump now to a new season.
Your motto this month should be "keep it simple." Hyacinths, crocus, tulips, and snowflakes are inexpensive and easy to find at grocery stores, florists, nurseries, and garden centers. Purchase plants that are tightly budded or about to bloom.
You can leave the bulbs in their plastic pots or transfer them into decorative ones. When moving them, trim excess roots with scissors, if needed, to fit them into new containers. Add potting soil, and cover with sheet moss.
Create a display of flowers using a small collection of containers. For fun, mix-and-match vintage and new pots, or try glazed ones with colors that echo the shades of the blossoms. Clay pots will complement all bloom colors and can be painted any shade for a special touch.
A little bit of greenery will provide a nice backdrop for your flowers. Wheatgrass, maidenhair fern, and ivy all work well. Try the showy leaves of rex begonias for a splash of color. Place a birdhouse or a watering can nearby for an extra hint of spring. Display your blooms on a windowsill, a small rustic side table, or a kitchen stepladder for a vertical accent.
The secret to long-blooming plants is keeping them cool. Avoid placing them near heating vents or in very warm rooms. You don't have to fertilize your plants. Just use decorative sheet moss to help the soil retain moisture and to dress up your pots.
Plant your forced snowflakes, hyacinths, and crocus outside in the garden when the flowers are done blooming. The bulbs will usually take a year to get back on schedule and flower again. Wait until the danger of frost has passed before adding the bulbs to your flowerbeds. They will do best if placed in a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil. You can try this method with tulips, but they probably will not bloom again after being forced.
Note: Other bulbs you can buy at this time of year include daffodils, grape hyacinths, and rock garden iris. Just remember that the most important thing is to have fun.
The fragrance of these flowers is the essence of spring. They are available in an assortment of colors from white, pink, and purple to yellow, blue, and red. If the container you purchase has multiple bulbs, you can plant them as a group or gently separate the bulbs and place them into several different containers. Gather small branches from your yard to use as stakes to hold up large blossoms, if needed.
Their white, yellow, and purple blooms look like Easter eggs popping up out of the ground. Indoors, place them where you can enjoy their blooms up close. These bulbs flower fast, inside and out, so purchase them even before the buds emerge.
The sight of these blossoms heralds the change of seasons. Use the flowers in their pots, or cut them for simple, elegant arrangements. Be sure to purchase plants that are tightly budded, as they can open up fast in warm conditions.
These fragrant, tiny, bell-like flowers gently greet the sunshine. Their blooms are small, so you'll need to plant several snowflake bulbs for more impact. A favorite Southern pass-along, these flowers will multiply happily in your garden.
This article is from the February 2005 issue of Southern Living.