Boost your spirits by coaxing, or "forcing," bulbs into fragrant blooms – an affordable extravagance even on a slim budget.
• Pot or jar (widebased and watertight; clear glass shows growing roots)
• Glass pebbles*, marbles, smooth river stones* or gravel (if using road gravel, wash off salt or oil)
• Sheet moss* (optional)
• Paper-white or hyacinth bulbs*
*Available at nurseries and floral supply stores
1. Place 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) of glass pebbles in container. (Note: For clear container, you may wish to layer different materials.) Set bulbs on top – close together and right side up - stabilizing, if necessary, with a little extra material around each bulb until roots anchor bulbs in place. If desired, tuck moss between bulbs.
2. Add water until bulb tips are immersed just 3 mm (1/8 in). Don't overfill or bulbs will rot.
3. For paperwhites: Place in sunny spot. Bulbs bloom in 4 to 6 weeks. For hyacinths: Place in shaded, cool spot. Bulbs will sprout in 8 to 12 weeks. When sprouts are approx 10 cm (4 in) high, move bowl into semishade for a week, then move to sunny windowsill.
Keep correct water level constant. Bulbs bloom only once with this method, so start with fresh ones each time.