Force the season

Step one: Choose a handful of bulbs at your local garden center. Paperwhite narcissus, miniature daffodils, even hyacinths all take well to forcing.

Step two: Find a narrow-necked glass vase, a pretty dish (at least two inches deep) or a tall, straight-sided glass vase.

Step three: Rinse a handful of stones or marbles and put them two inches deep in the bottom of the container (not necessary if you use a narrow-necked vase).

Step four: Place the bulbs, root end down (that’s the widest end of the bulb) on top of the stones so they’re supported comfortably. If you’re using a narrow-necked vase, the neck should support the bulb.

Step five: Add water to the container so it’s deep enough to wet the bottoms of the bulbs. Keep it topped up for the next few weeks.

Step six: Place the bulbs in a spot well-lit by indirect light. They should begin to sprout within a few days. If they bend toward the light, turn the container a half-turn. They’ll bend back.

Step seven: Once the stems are taller, they may need support. Tie them loosely with string or ribbon (not necessary if you’ve used a straight-sided vase). The flowers should be ready in about four to six weeks, depending on the warmth of your house. Start several batches, a few weeks apart, to ensure you’ve got a steady supply until winter’s over. Alisa Gordaneer is MT features editor. E-mail [email protected]

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