Indoor Spring flowers are a great antidote to the cold and dark months to come.
Many people start their bulbs off in September or October to have flowers in time for Christmas, but I prefer them to brighten up the dark days that follow the festivities, when Spring is just round the corner and the blooms are more in keeping with the season ahead.
Bulbs can be planted in all manner of containers. Keep your eyes peeled for pretty pieces of old china in charity shops and jumble sales. I picked up the ivy patterned sugar bowl and pyrex snowflake jug just last week on an “everything for a pound” market stall. Enamelware, such as this red-rimmed bowl, works well too.
To grow Paperwhites indoors
The containers are filled with around 5cm of compost. Pop the bulbs on top, allowing a little room around each one and between the bulbs and the sides of the pot. Sprinkle a little more compost on top and press in around the bulbs to hold them in place. Leave a gap of a couple of centimetres between the top of your compost and the rim of your container to allow for watering.
I like to finish mine with a layer of moss from the garden. Check carefully for beasties before adding to your bulbs to make sure you don’t bring any unwanted guests into the house. Keep the moss moist, and don’t let the compost dry out. But if, like me, you choose not to drill holes in the bottom of your container, you’ll need to be careful not to overwater.
Leave on sunny windowsills to grow and flower.
Planted up they make lovely gifts, or could be sold at charity fairs and craft sales.
To grow Hyacinths indoors
These are easy to grow in old-fashioned hyacinth vases, or you can try improvising with jam jars.
A couple of small pieces of charcoal are placed inside each vase to keep the water fresh. Fill with water up to the top of the vase’s neck and place the bulb on top, making sure that it sits just above the waterline. The bulb will send roots down into the water, but you don’t want the bulb itself to get wet.
The vases then go somewhere cool and dark – an understairs cupboard will do – until the shoots are well developed to about six or seven centimetres. Bring them into the light where they will continue to grow and flower.
Hyacinths can also be planted in the same way as the Paperwhites, but remember to place them in the dark to develop and to check them regularly to make sure the soil hasn’t dried out. Once the shoots have developed, bring them out into the light.