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Spring bulbs bring the season indoors

Hyacinth forced into bloom perfume the air. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Hyacinth forced into bloom perfume the air. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

As I sit and write this column, the fragrance of a white hyacinth vies for my attention.

Not far behind are blue and pink hyacinths just about ready to bloom. The hyacinths spent fall and winter in a paper bag on my enclosed, but unheated porch. Those several weeks on the chilly porch prepared the bulbs for forcing indoors.

Some garden centers may still have hyacinths, tulips or daffodils that have been pre-chilled and are ready for forcing. Or, you can buy pots of bulbs forced into bloom at garden centers, florists and grocery retailers.

These bulbs add a bit of seasonal beauty indoors at a time of the year when we are starved for natural color and fragrance. Pots of forced bulbs also make the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day.

For the longest period of enjoyment, keep forced bulbs in a cool, bright spot away from direct heat. Usually people toss the bulbs after they are done blooming, but many can be transplanted into the garden in spring. If you want to do that, keep the foliage attached to the bulb. The leaves replenish the bulbs nutrients and can be removed when transplanted after they turn yellow or brown, a process called ripening.

Cut tulips last about a week when kept in fresh water and in a cool locations. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Cut tulips last about a week when kept in fresh water and in a cool location. Photo courtesy Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

If all of this seems like a lot of work, consider buying a bunch of tulips or daffodils at the florist or grocery store.

Select flowers that still are tight, but showing a bit of color. When you get the tulips, daffodils or hyacinths home, make a fresh cut on the stems and place in a clean vase with cool water.

Place the vase in a bright area away from direct heat and cold. Within a day or two, the flowers should open. They will last about a week to 10 days. Change the water every day or two. Do not use floral preservative mixes with bulbs.

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