Gardening is one of the best ways to enjoy seasonal change, and winter offers a refreshing break from the busier garden seasons. Freshly falling snow is a lovely sight, while it lasts, but before long we crave the colors, fragrances and foliage of the garden. While we can't shorten the winter, we can shake its blues with indoor gardening. Here are some tips for easy and inexpensive ways to have fun with indoor plants in winter.
Paper whites are the absolute easiest and budget friendly bulbs to force. The sight of emerging green stalks from bulbs resting on a simple bed of stone, is almost as pretty as the bouquets of clean white blossoms. Staggering a collection of bulbs (purchased in the fall) several weeks apart will ensure a long period of bloom. You can place your bulbs in a container with stone at any time, then just wait to start watering a few weeks before you want them to grow. Blossoms will appear in 4-6 weeks. Discard the bulbs when they are finished blooming and reuse the stones and container for a new set of bulbs.
Cheery and colorful begonias are super easy to grow. Some small inexpensive plants I purchased one winter day to dress up my dining table have continued to grow and flower for months several years in a row. Varieties grown for colorful foliage are just as easy. All begonias seem to require is a sunny window, regular water and plant food. Like most houseplants, they benefit from time spent outside during summer and replanting to a larger pot when needed.
Fresh herbs can be readily found in grocery stores these days, but I find it more satisfying to have my own collection of easy-care windowsill herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary and bay.
For years I have filled my sunny windowsills with vegetable and annual flower seedlings in late winter. Rather than depend on what is available in garden centers, I can be sure to have the varieties I like best and ones I know will grow well in my garden. But the main reason I do this every year, is to bridge the long winter gap between the gardening seasons.
I recently I added a simple grow light system in my basement, and have discovered that in addition to starting more seedlings, I can grow my own salad greens throughout the winter while my outdoor garden rests.
Experiment yourself with low budget plant fun, and spring will be here before you know it. There are so many possibilities. Try rooting some cuttings from a friend's houseplant, start an avocado plant from a pit, grow an orange tree from a seed, or root a sweet potato in water. Have fun and enjoy the winter!
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