Forcing these flowers inside will bring a warm, sunny feel to any home despite the weather outdoors.
The tiny, fragrant snow-white bells of Convallaria majalis, or lily-of-the-valley, ring in the start of spring in the garden. But why wait until the weather warms, when you can force them indoors. Special, prechilled rhizomes, called pips, can be purchased from mail-order sources specifically for the purpose of forcing in any season. Growing 8 to 10 inches tall, the slender, delicate stalks hold 10 to 15 bell-shaped blooms that are as rich in fragrance as they are in folklore. Signifying happiness, lily-of-the-valley is nearly a standard in bridal bouquets. Nothing can more elegantly state joy than a tiny container filled with the arching, fragrant, flower-covered stalks of lily-of-the-valley.
Learn more about other beautiful bulbs, including:
You generally can order lily-of-the-valley for forcing from catalogs. Check with your garden center manager to make sure the rhizomes you are purchasing have been precooled and are suitable for indoor blooming.
Show off the pristine white blooms of lily-of-the-valley by planting them in white porcelain planters with delicate cutout edges. These plants also can dress up containers such as hand-painted china bowls, blue willow dishes, or a finely woven basket. For a country look, plant a clump of lily-of-the-valley in a rough-hewn wooden box or small wooden bread bowl with a soft blanket of Spanish moss.
1. For the best results, select prechilled rhizomes.
2. Place the pips 1 to 2 inches apart and cover with 1 inch of soil.
3. Water generously.
4. Lily-of-the-valley blooms three to four weeks after you've planted it. In about three weeks you'll be rewarded with the elegant swordlike leaves and fragrant blooms. These delicate little beauties look best when planted in a clump, and bloom for 1-1/2 weeks.
5. Take special care with these plants because all parts are poisonous; keep them out of the reach of curious children and maurauding pets.