When winter approaches and it’s cold and dark outside what could be more cheering than a few colorful blooming bulbs? They are easy to grow and provided you make the effort to plant them now you should be rewarded with flowers in time for the holidays. The three bulbs described in the article below are the Amaryllis, Paperwhites and the fragrant Hyacinth. I found an article by Greg Stack from the University of Illinois Extension which tells you what to do.

Most people will describe winter using one word descriptors?cold-dark-icy-snowy, said Greg Stack, University of Illinois Extension horticulturist.
?Gardeners may also have similar responses but they may look at winter as a time to dream a little about next season?s garden and enjoy the colorful catalogs that find their way to the mailbox,? said Stack. ?You can also temper those dark, dreary days with a little burst of color and fragrance by coaxing bulbs into bloom and taking the edge off of those long winter days.?
Forcing bulbs is not complicated and if you use the right ones, just about foolproof.

Amaryllis, paper white narcissus and hyacinth are bulbs that are available just about everywhere and easy to bloom. With a little planning, you can provide color and fragrance for a good portion of the winter.
?Let?s start with that dramatic, large amaryllis bulb,? said Stack. ?These larger-than-life bulbs are easily forced into bloom. When shopping for amaryllis, look for large firm bulbs. The large ones often will produce two flower stalks while smaller ones only one. The pot you choose should be about one-inch larger than the diameter of the bulb.
?Position the bulb so that about one-third of the bulb is above the soil line and fill the pot with a prepared potting mix. Water well and place the bulb in a very well-lighted area with a temperature of about 65-70 degrees. The first thing you will see emerge is a flower stalk. When this happens, give the bulb plenty of light. If growing on a window sill, turn the pot daily so the flower stalk will grow straight and not bend toward the light. Flowering will occur in about six to eight weeks after potting.?

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