Bring the freshness of spring inside your Midwest home even during cold weather by choosing plants that bloom--or can be forced to bloom--this time of year.
Because these fragrant blossoms make excellent accents in any home, they make great gifts, too.
This study in purple shines with a combination of tulips and two kinds of hyacinth that were forced to bloom in winter. Click ahead for more houseplants with blossoms, or go to slides 10 through 18 for bulbs that are good for forcing.
These delicate plants reward with year-round blossoms and petite beauty. Choose variegated, ruffled or white-edged blooms. For a simple gift, start a cutting for a friend! (Plant the stem of a healthy, crisp leaf--not an older outside leaf--an inch or so into potting soil, place in a humid spot, and in about six weeks, you should have a plantlet to share.)
Elegant yet hardy, these flowers hold onto their blooms for a month or longer. A wide variety of sizes and colors means you can find one to please every style.
These boldly formed and colored plants complement equally bold interiors. Try a bromeliad in the same hue as your dominant room color or contrasting one. These tropical beauties don't need much care.
Also called clivia, this houseplant's clusters of reddish-orange tubular flowers open in winter.
As pretty as its cousin the African violet, cape primrose blooms almost continuously in the right conditions.
Heart-shape flowers and leaves make this a natural for a gift of love! Pictured below the anthurium 'Red Hot' are rex begonia (right) and Gynura 'Purple Passion'.
Huge blooms on a shrubby plant brighten any corner. It blooms occasionally through winter.
Cool temps and short days stimulate flowering on this profuse bloomer.
Forcing means making a bulb bloom inside at a time of year it doesn't naturally bloom outside. Most people force bulbs for winter cheer.
Bulbs grown in cool Zones need chill time to make them think winter has passed. Place potted bulbs in a cold place, such as an unused refrigerator, unheated basement or porch, for about three months. Keep soil moist. About three weeks before you want flowers, position pots in a cool room with indirect light. Once growth forms, it's OK to move the pot to a warm, sunny spot. When flowers fade, toss the plant--forcing is hard on bulbs, so they probably won't rebloom.
This blue pot overflows with English ivy accented by pink hyacinth and primrose.
These bulbs are easy to force. Flower colors of red, white, pink, orange, salmon and bicolor suit any style.
Triumph, Single Early, Double Early, and Darwin Hybrids are best for forcing. Here, a pot of tulips punctuates a row of terra-cotta containers growing grass. A simple, fun idea!
Yellow dafs pair with sweet pussy willows for a classic dose of sunshine.
A bowl of white and pink hyacinth scream spring. But the effect is easy to get even midwinter. Bonus: they emit a wonderful fragrance.
Little lavender snow crocus herald sunshine in a row on a windowsill.
A tiny pot of lily of the valley makes for big impact because of its heady fragrance. White tulips and a tiny watering can complete the scene.
Pungent paperwhites are the classic forced bulb. Show them off in a classic urn with a base of artichokes. No chill time needed for these fragrant beauties. Successive plantings result in blooms Thanksgiving to March.
You can also try forcing snowdrops--but plant a lot because they are tiny--Siberian squill and dwarf iris (pictured with daffodils and pansies).