Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - GARDENS - TEXT MARY MAUREL

By plant­ing in­door con­tain­ers with bulbs, you can en­joy spring through­out the gloomi­est win­ter months

Spring blooms can in­fuse your home with scent and colour well be­fore the sea­son ac­tu­ally ar­rives. Hy­acinths, nar­cissi and amaryl­lis are all good bulbs for in­doors. Pa­per-white nar­cissi (Nar­cis­sus pa­pyraceus) are my favourites. These el­e­gant bulbs fill the room with fra­grance and are in­cred­i­bly easy to grow.

Plant­ing bulbs only re­quires a lit­tle plan­ning. Last year, I placed bulbs di­rectly in wa­ter-filled con­tain­ers. The whole process was en­gag­ing, from sprout­ing to watch­ing the roots de­velop.

The trick is to stag­ger the plant­ing of a few pots ev­ery seven days, thus al­low­ing an ex­tended flow­er­ing pe­riod. Florist ex­traor­di­naire Sarah Raven rec­om­mends buy­ing sev­eral cheap plas­tic colan­ders and plant­ing one with bulbs each week. As each colan­der comes into flower, she drops it into a favourite con­tainer, puts it on dis­play and re­places the plant that has just fin­ished flow­er­ing.

When plant­ing the colan­der, fill it with a mix­ture of com­post and grit, as drainage is cru­cial. Push the bulbs in just be­low the sur­face (about 10cm), pointy end up. Cover with a lit­tle more com­post, push the soil down un­til firm and wa­ter well. They should flower within eight weeks.

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