Fight Winter Blahs With Flowering Indoor Plants

Spruce up the dreary chilly months with a little cold-hardy color.

| January/February 2012

Even if you successfully keep your poinsettias alive this winter, they probably won’t have the red abundance they once did, and you might need something else to brighten your surroundings until the robins announce that spring is here.

If you’re a veteran gardener, you may have planned ahead and placed some spring bulbs in the refrigerator for a few weeks before potting them and putting the container in a sunny window. If you didn’t plan, don’t despair. Area florists and garden centers have done this for you. You can have cheerful, brightly colored tulips blooming in February. If not, you can find preplanted bulbs ready to go.

Glen Benedict Jr., at Benedict the Florist in Salisbury, Maryland, says he has potted tulips, hyacinths and dwarf narcissus available in the late summer to take home, and, if you treat them right, they will reward you with fragrant blooms right into the winter months.

Paperwhite narcissus, a perennial favorite because of the fragrance and the delicate white blossoms, often look better in the store than they do after you get them home. Benedict says the secret is hydration and light – bright and plentiful.

“If you place the pot in a sunny window and keep it hydrated right up to the bulbs, they should do well,” he says. “Some gardeners swear by adding a capful of vodka or gin to the water, or dissolving an aspirin in the water.”

While these techniques can’t hurt, he says the most important thing is light. According to Benedict, the plants in the greenhouse are up to five inches shorter than the same varieties he’s brought into the store because they grow leggy as they struggle to get to the sun in his store.

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