How to Garden Indoors During the Winter
Winter is coming! As we transition from autumn to winter, the days grow colder and darker. The slower gardening season is welcome, as plants slide into dormancy and the garden hibernates for the winter. Sometimes we may want to join in that season of rest, and yet there is still so much to anticipate and appreciate! During these colder months, it is normal to long for the bright and cheerful presence of fresh spring flowers in our homes. Enter the beauty and ease of forced winter blooms like paperwhite narcissi, amaryllis, and hyacinths! There are many ways we can garden indoors during the winter. Planting bulbs for growing indoors is rewarding and simple, which is just the way I like it during the slower winter season.
Table of Contents
Paperwhite Narcissi add a wonderful pop of florals to your home at a time when you wouldn’t typically see daffodil blooms. They are beautiful indoor flowering plants for the winter months. No need to wait for spring to see these dainty petals work their magic!
Most indoor narcissi are fragrant, however, there are unscented paperwhites for those who prefer scent-free flowers. If your preference is a bloom with less scent, look for Paperwhite Inbal. With crisp white blooms and fresh green foliage, it brings a welcome sight to any room. If you love the fragrance of indoor narcissi, you can expand your list to include all the indoor varieties which incorporate shades of yellow and orange too. Being an easy bulb to grow, indoor narcissus makes the perfect project for beginner gardeners.
Paperwhite bulbs can be planted in soil or nestled in a shallow bowl or pot with decorative rocks. Want to play into the natural beauty of the paperwhite? Find a shallow pot with neutral tones, such as ivory, taupe, beige, or cream. Pot up your paperwhites in some soil and add a blanket of moss to cover the soil with. You can likely find some moss in your own backyard, or purchase some at a garden center or an art supply store. With the simplicity of a nature-inspired pot, you will have created your own miniature indoor oasis that will grow and bloom for weeks.
Tip:When planting bulbs in soil indoors, use a fresh sterile soil mix. Select a container with good drainage holes and a saucer or larger decorative container that you can pour excess water from. When watering, keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
Not sure which paperwhite variety to start with? Check out Paperwhite Ziva or Paperwhite Inbal (a scent-free option). Visit our article on the popular varieties of Indoor Narcissus to grow.
Next on the list of must-have winter forcing bulbs, is amaryllis or Hippeastrum. Usually thought of as a Christmas-time bloom, you can enjoy these all winter long. These frost-tender bulbs store very well in a cool dark area (like a garage) and bloom within 8-12 weeks. Store your amaryllis bulbs at 5-7°C and then bring the bulbs out from the garage into the warmth (21°C) of your home in stages to marvel at blooms throughout all the winter months. Need some tips on how to plant? Check out our FAQ guide on Amaryllis bulbs.
Here are some of the varieties that we will be planting in pots this year!
Amaryllis Red Lion
Amaryllis White Nymph
Want to level up your potted amaryllis bulb and add some dramatic flair? Venture out into your backyard, a park, or a hiking trail and find some sticks. Yes, it really is that simple – find some beautiful twigs, vines, or branches (perhaps with some mystical-looking moss dangling from the ends) and stake them vertically into your amaryllis pot. This almost acts as a bit of a cage for the amaryllis to flower up into but will create a very enchanted, and artistic backdrop to show off its beautiful blooms.
Finally, our favourite fragrant indoor forcing bulb – hyacinths! Look for “prepared” hyacinths when you’re visiting your garden center. Prepared Hyacinth bulbs have been dug in early in mid-June and have had a specific temperature treatment to advance the flower formation in the bulb. The bulbs still require a cool and dark period for approximately 10-12 weeks at 9°C. After this time there should be a 2-3” sprout and can be moved into a room temperature area and blooms will appear in 2-3 weeks. Bulbs planted by September 30th will be in bloom by Christmas!
Select your containers or forcing vases. These vases have a narrow waist and do a wonderful job placing the hyacinth bulb at center stage in the spotlight where it belongs. You can find these forcing vases at most garden centers, though you could also use jam jars filled with pebbles and stones. Next plant your bulbs in containers with moist fresh soil, among pebbles, or place them on forcing vases and water. Then store them in a dark, cold (9°C), well-ventilated area like a garage or basement for up to 8 weeks. Keep them away from any produce or fruit as when they ripen, they will naturally produce ethylene gas that will shrivel the flowering bud in the bulbs. Check-in on your planted bulbs weekly and spritz dry soil or add water to forcing vases or jars. Once you start to see the green tips growing about 2.5 cm (1”), you can bring your container or vase into your space and watch the beauty unfold and the fragrance scent your home, over the next few weeks. Check out our complete guide to forcing hyacinths for more information.
Tip:If you are growing bulbs indoors or on rocks or pebbles, or in a forcing vase, ensure that the water level does not touch the base of the bulbs. Mind the gap and keep a 1 cm (0.5″) space between the water’s surface and the base of the bulb. The bulb will naturally sense the humidity and start to produce roots into the water.
The varieties we will be forcing this season are:
With minimal effort to ensure that our indoor winter gardens are a success, we can then relax and retreat back to a preferred place of hibernation (the sofa) with a cup of tea and a favourite book. Rest is what we all need this season. As our gardens start their yearly slumber, our potted bulbs are already working their magic indoors, poking up through the pretty pebbles and moss-covered blankets to remind us that beauty is on its way. Find a garden center near you to find these bulbs to get you ready to garden indoors. Contact us to locate these and other great Florissa products in your area!