This winter, avoid cabin fever with flowering plants. You can use a number of techniques to force blooms in the middle of the longest, coldest, least flower-friendly time of year. Creating a spring-like oasis inside your home keeps your green thumb in shape for the coming spring and summer gardening seasons. Take advantage of the lull in your warm-weather gardening activities to try some new and interesting winter gardening projects.
Woody, flowering shrubs like lilac, forsythia, witchhazel, honeysuckle and rhododendron can be cut and forced indoors. These shrubs need at least 8 weeks of cold temperatures---below 40 degrees Fahrenheit---to form buds. In mid-January or early February, look for healthy, well-formed flower buds. Cut 6 to 18 inches of the branch as close as possible to its main branch. Once indoors, trim the ends of the stems by making a second, slanted cut just above your original cut. Place the branches in warm (110 degrees Fahrenheit) water and keep the container in a cool (65 degrees) location.
Tender perennials like geraniums, begonias, fuschias and hibiscus can be brought inside and maintained for the following summer. Trim geraniums, begonias and fuschias back to about 6 inches and keep them in a sunny window. Hibiscus can be lightly pruned and placed in a warm, sunny location.
Bulbs, Corms and Tubers
Dig and replant tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and crocus in shallow pots for indoor winter color. Bulbs require an extended cold period (35 to 48 degrees for 12 weeks). This can be done in your garage, cold frame or refrigerator produce drawer. Plant the bulbs in a light mixture of 3 parts garden loam, 2 parts peat moss and 1 part sand. Water thoroughly and keep in a cool (65 degrees) location.