Whether you're looking to get your hands in the dirt during the long winter months or simply don't have the room or inclination for an outside garden, growing flowers indoors is a satisfying endeavor that will add beauty, color and fragrance to your living quarters. There is a wide variety of flowers you can grow indoors, and the undertaking can be as simple or as challenging as you want.
Forcing bulbs is one of the easiest and most popular ways of growing flowers indoors. Many spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinth or narcissus can grown indoors in the winter, "forcing" them to bloom earlier than they naturally would. You can purchase bulbs for forcing at any nursery or garden center, or you can use bulbs dug from your own garden. If you are using your own bulbs, bury them partway in soil with just the tips sticking above the surface, and give them a cold treatment for about three months with temperatures at 35 to 48 degrees. Afterwards, you may bring the bulbs into a warmer part of your house and into indirect sunlight. The bulbs will flower in three to four weeks. Store-bought bulbs for forcing have usually already been cold treated and should be grown according to package instructions.
Overwintering Garden Flowers
If you grow potted flowers outside in the summer, you may be able to bring them indoors to overwinter them. Some plants, like fuchsia, will need to go dormant and will drop all their leaves; these flowers are better off kept in a cool, dark basement. Other flowers, such as geraniums, will happily overwinter in a sunny window. They likely won't flower when light levels are the lowest (between the winter solstice and the spring equinox), but as the days lengthen and the sunlight gets stronger, overwintered geraniums will burst into bloom again, months before anything is blooming outside. Impatiens, begonias, verbena and other garden flowers can also be grown indoors.
Flowering House plants
Flowering house plants generally require a bit more fuss than the average aloe or spider plant, but they reward you with exotic blooms and, sometimes, sweet fragrance. Every plant will have different needs. Cyclamen, for instance, like cooler temperatures and indirect light, whereas amaryllis like as much bright light as they can get. Other popular flowering house plants include African violets, Christmas cactus and zebra plant. The staff at your local garden center can help you pick out the flowering house plant that is best for your environment and lifestyle.
Orchids have very exact humidity, light and temperature requirements, but the variety of colors and flower shapes is virtually infinite, and many produce an intoxicatingly strong perfume. Orchids can be very expensive, with some individual plants costing hundreds of dollars. You should be able to purchase a smaller, more common specimen for under $20.
Choosing the Best Plants
Bulbs intended for indoor forcing should be large and healthy. Any outside plants should be inspected for insects or disease before bringing them inside because one sick plant could infect all your other plants. When purchasing houseplants, look for robust leaves and sturdy stems, and avoiding buying plants that are already in full bloom because the plant may not adjust well to its new environment and may drop its blossoms.