Technically this post isn’t about true winter bulbs, which in my climate would be things like winter aconite and snowdrops. Rather, it’s about the indoor bulbs, both tender and hardy, that I force into bloom to get me through winter!
You already saw these on New Year’s. These are paperwhite narcissus, often just called paperwhites. They are ridiculously easy to force:set the bulbs on some rocks or gravel and wait 4-6 weeks depending on your house temperature.
The thing about paperwhites is that they are very fragrant. You like them or you don’t. So if you have not had them before, don’t buy dozens until you know if you like the scent.
The next typical indoor winter bulb is the amaryllis. These are often sold loose, or as kits, with soil, pots and bulbs together. I have even seen them sold just as a bulb with a waxy coating: no soil or pot needed. For me, who keeps hers from year to year, that’s not sustainable, because of course you can’t do that with the coated bulb.
Finally here are some less traditional choices. In my case, these are hyacinth. I find they are really the only ones worth forcing all winter. I started these around Thanksgiving. And I have more coming behind them so that I should have hyacinths for the rest of the winter.
Why do I say these are the only ones worth forcing? Personal preference is part of it. But once they bloom, there is often a second bud as well so there’s an exceptional bloom time. And they’re fragrant. So it’s all good.
All of that adds up to a win for me!
Actually, I find these three to be the best and most reliable for forcing. Tulips are risky, and likely to get desiccated inside the home with the heat on. Crocus can be rather wimpy.
Agreed. I tried a few of the minor bulbs last year but they were disappointing. And tulips just never seem to be worth the effort. They take longer, don’t have the scent and don’t seem to be as vibrant as those in the landscape. For my tulip fix, I will treat myself to a cut flower bunch–or two–every so often.