Fresh flowers in wintertime!
They seem like an impossibility, but there are some really neat ways to get the beauty of fresh flowers into your home during the winter months. You can grow live indoor blooming plants, or force branches and bulbs indoors.
Here are some ideas on how to bring fresh flowers into your home this winter.
1. Indoor Blooms – Flowering Houseplants
Indoor houseplants can add so much color and life to your home during the gray winter months. And as an added bonus, they help clean the air, too. Here are some of the plants that work well for winter blooming.
Christmas cactus – Year after year, this Brazilian native will put out lovely red and pink blooms. The Christmas cactus is actually a forest cactus, so it doesn’t need the bright light that desert cacti need.
African violets – Somewhat demure, the lovely purple blooms of African violets add sweet color to rooms in winter. You can also get African violets in bright pink and fuchsia. They do like bright light but not direct sunlight, so a north-facing window would be perfect.
Ixora – You might know this as Flame of the Woods. It’s a flowering plant with clusters of little orange, red, and yellow flowers. Its foliage is something like fig leaves, and they come up bronze-colored and then turn bright green.
2. Forcing Bulbs
For flowering bulbs that bring spring-like fragrance and color to your home, you’ll need to “force” them. Here are some suggestions on what bulbs to use and how to get them to flower.
- Lily of the Valley
To get the bulbs to bloom in winter, start in the fall, or about 3 to 4 weeks before you want them to flower. Before bringing them in for forcing, bulbs need to be exposed to the cold for a few months. You can place them in the refrigerator if you like, sometime in late summer or early fall.
Once they’ve been exposed to cold for a time, you can force them in pots of soil or in water. Crocus, hyacinths, and daffodils will work in water; the others need soil.
For soil: Put some sand, gravel, or soil in clay pots. Then place the bulbs, pointy end up, in clay pots and add soil to cover them partly. Bulbs should not be buried. Water, and keep the soil moist continually. You don’t need rich soil; the bulbs have food stored in themselves for one bloom cycle.
For water: In a vase designed for the purpose or one you rig up yourself, the bulb should be placed above, not in, a reservoir of water. Then it should be kept in a dark room where it’s cool (such as a garage) for a month or two – long enough for the roots to develop and the top to get longer. Then you can place it in the sun.
3. Flowering Branches and Cuttings
A special and interesting way to get flowers indoors is by taking cuttings from flowering plants. Wait until after New Year’s to take cuttings, so the plants have had enough cold exposure. Here are some shrubs and trees that make good blooming cuttings:
* Pussy willow
* Crab apple
Take cuttings with sharp tools, then place in water. Use containers that hold the branches upright. Place in a cool and shady place until you see buds. Then you can move them to a light location but not in direct sunlight.