Growing Winter Flowers

Geranium happily blooms indoors. image by Mart1n/sxc.hu, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/833764

Overview

Bring the beauty of flowers indoors during the winter with more than the poinsettias you see at Christmas. There are easy ways to grow flowering plants indoors by providing the correct light, heat, water and fertilizer to potted plants, especially by bringing in your outdoor pots before hard winter hits. Another way to bring nature indoors in winter is to force the blooming of bulbs, such as hyacinth, narcissus and tulip. A good artificial light source or direct sun from a window or skylight are necessary for indoor plants to thrive. It may be snowing outside, but you can be enjoying geranium blooms inside. It just takes a little planning and the right conditions.

Step 1

Bring outdoor potted plants indoors before the weather turns consistently cold--in early to late fall, preferably. When you bring flowering plants indoors, cut back stems and flowers by about two-thirds. This helps the plant adjust to lower light conditions indoors and lessens the stress of its needing to provide nutrients to existing large summer leaves. Place outdoor pots where they'll get bright sun from windows, or else provide sufficient artificial light: up to 10 hours of incandescent or fluorescent lighting each day. Put faltering plants in non-stop light for 18 hours daily for several days, keeping the light source as close to the plant as possible. Water and fertilize sparingly. Only water if an inch of topsoil feels dry, or water from the bottom, placing the pot in a dish or bowl of water, letting the plant draw as much as it wants. To encourage blooms, fertilize with a 30 percent or less solution, and then provide bright light for several days.

Step 2

Force flowering bulbs for indoor color and fragrance during winter months. Plan ahead by placing bulbs in the refrigerator at least one month before trying to force blooms. Tulips, especially, require this cold, dark and dormant period before producing flowers. The easiest bulbs to force are paperwhites-narcissus, and daffodils. Muscari and hyacinth will also bloom indoors after a dormant period. Fill a showy container with pebbles and push the bulbs into them, leaving the tops showing. Water and place in bright light, but keep away from heat sources, such as fireplaces and furnace vents. After blooms appear, keep bulbs well watered, and provide support to stems if they lean.

Step 3

Plant herb seeds and place the pot under bright light, in warm conditions until they sprout. Keep in bright light and encourage growth with a mild fertilizer. Some herbs, such as dill, produce small flowers, as well as foliage that is used in cooking. Basil, rosemary, thyme and others will also sprout well indoors in the correct conditions. As with other indoor plants, water sparingly unless the soil feels dry and the plants start drooping. Yellowing leaves usually indicate too much watering.

Tips and Warnings

  • Watch for bugs or pests on indoor plants and treat accordingly.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting pots
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Fluorescent or grow lights
  • Sunny window
  • Plant mister

References

  • U.S. National Arboretum
  • University of Missouri Extension Service

Who Can Help

  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Learning Library
Keywords: indoor, planting, winter

About this Author

Patrice Gravino is a professional writer with more than 20 years experience and began writing for eHow in 2008. As an AP journalist, she has been published in the "San Francisco Chronicle," the "New York Times," the "Los Angeles Times" and the "Dallas Morning News." She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Regis University and is a certified master gardener.

Photo by: Mart1n/sxc.hu, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/833764