It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith

As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves on deciduous trees, we are left with shades of green in our gardens to look at throughout winter.

There are quite a few winter-blooming perennials and shrubs that can add some winter interest to our gardens, but as far as bouquets or vases of blooms, the pickin’s are slim. For those of us who experience color starvation, here are some ideas to bring the outside into our living spaces. They involve fooling Mother Nature – which might feel a little devious, but I am sure she will understand.

Spring blooming bulbs – like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths – can all be tricked into blooming in our houses. It involves chilling the bulbs for 8 to 12 weeks in a cool mud room, basement or even the fridge, just as long as we don’t let them freeze. This simulates what happens out in our gardens during winter and is necessary for the bulbs to wake up and produce a bloom. Once the cooling period is over, place them into a pot with some quality potting soil, add water and let them do their stuff. It will take 6 weeks to grow roots, sprout leaves and produce a bloom. If you don’t want to mess with dirt, you can grow them in a vase of water. Set the bulbs on gravel and keep the water level just below the bottom of the bulbs.

If 8 to 12 weeks of cooling is too long for you, then try Paperwhites. These do not need cooling to bloom, and it only takes 4 to 5 weeks. Here again, place them on a bed of gravel in a shallow container with water just up to their bottoms. If they start to get too leggy, put a few drops of vodka in the water, and it will slow them down. Don’t overdo it; there is nothing more obnoxious than an inebriated Paperwhite.

Amaryllis is another bulb that does not need any chilling, and if started now will be blooming by the holidays. These are large bulbs almost the size of a softball and produce a thick, heavy, supportive stalk to hold their beautiful large flowers. Plant the bulb in a 6-inch pot with two-thirds of the bulb above the soil level, add some water and watch it grow. Also, I am now finding bulbs in garden centers that have been coated with brightly colored wax, with their own little stands, that are completely self-contained. You don’t even need to add water because the bulbs were soaked before they were waxed. The only down side is the bulbs are single-use and will not bloom again.

Finally, any shrub that is normally a winter or very early spring bloomer can be forced to come into bloom early simply by cutting off a few budded twigs and bringing them indoors into a vase. Forsythia and Quince are the most commonly used plants for this purpose.

There is no need to suffer the next 3 months without colorful flowers in the house.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

•Additionally, Sunnyside will be hosting two classes, “Pruning for Happy Trees Thru Winter,” Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. and Nov. 10 at 11 a.m.

More in Business

Bare-root fruit trees. (Courtesy Photos)
Now, yes now, is the time to start thinking about fruit trees

By Steve Smith Believe it or not, by the end of this… Continue reading

Tips on getting garden ready for arctic blast 

By Steve Smith It looks like the next couple of weeks are… Continue reading

Vertical gardens, such as these strawberries, make good use of little space. (Courtesy Photos)
Garden trends for 2020 similar to last 5 years

By Steve Smith I have spent countless hours researching “trends for 2020”… Continue reading

Lemon tree very pretty. (Courtesy Photo)
Citrus can be grown in the Northwest

By Steve Smith We live in a horticultural paradise. There is very… Continue reading

Business briefly

Business awards MARYSVILLE – Four-Day Fireplace was recently named Business of the… Continue reading

Not too late to dig up a gift for garden lovers

By Steve Smith I know it is crunch time for gift buying… Continue reading

New luxury pre-owned car dealership opens in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – North Marysville’s auto row just added a touch of luxury… Continue reading

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading