Blooming plants beat the winter blues

I don’t know how you feel about winter, but if you’ve read RDR in the last eight years, you know it’s not my favorite season. That’s an understatement. Oklahoma skies are gray and bleak throughout January and February, which can give a red dirt girl the winter blues. I see more rain and snow forecast for today and tomorrow. Whoopee. I’m glad we’re getting rain, and I know the garden needs its rest, but those gray skies can sure bring me down.

Budding hyacinths and paperwhites grace one window.
Budding hyacinths and paperwhites grace one window.

Here’s the good news. We’re seventeen days past the winter solstice, so our days are already growing longer. The bad news? January and February in Oklahoma aren’t much fun, and we only have St. Valentine’s Day to distract us. I have some ideas to help gardeners get through the rest of winter.

A silver pot of lily of the valley.
A silver pot of lily of the valley.

Let’s take exquisite care of ourselves. Don’t forget to gently exercise. Use light therapy, like NatureBright’s SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp, if you need it.

Gardeners also need flowers, and blooming plants beat the winter blues. We don’t just quit loving our gardens in winter even though we realize everyone needs a rest. We need plants and their gentle rhythms in winter too. If you’re having a bad day, take a handful of potting soil and sniff it. It might help you find yourself again.

The sweet peas are growing nicely in the greenhouse.
The sweet peas and coleus are growing nicely in the greenhouse.

If you’re lucky, you have an entire greenhouse of green growing plants, but if not, you can still grow a lot indoors. I’m not terribly excited about the tropicals we see in every store this time of years unless they’re in terrariums, so I focus upon winter bloomers. From lily of the valley to hyacinths forced on hyacinth vases and in pots, my house is decorated everywhere with these early signs of spring.

Hyacinths on glass. It's the beginning of an indoor garden.
Hyacinths on glass. It’s the beginning of an indoor garden.

My living room, called a great room in log cabin lingo, is quite large, 18 x 36 feet. That’s why I can force so many hyacinths at once. I realize the scent gets to other people, but it isn’t very strong in here. I also keep the house quite cool so blooms will continue as long as possible.

Blooming plants beat the winter blues. Hippeastrum 'Red Pearl' amaryllis is the most scrumptious shade of red.
Hippeastrum ‘Red Pearl’ amaryllis is the most scrumptious shade of red.

I have one amaryllis that never broke dormancy. I’ve never had that happen, and I’m bit irritated by the recalcitrant bulb. I put it next to ‘Red Pearl.’ Maybe that will embarrass it into performing. Maybe not.

The closet is still full of hyacinth vases so I have a long way to go. I’ll also head out to the grocery store and see if I find any other plants blooming. Locally, Whole Foods has a lot to choose from. Buying a few orchids or other plants is a lot cheaper than therapy.

Bouquet of roses grown in California and sold at Whole Foods.
Bouquet of roses grown in California and sold at Whole Foods.

Don’t forget to buy yourself a bouquet of cut flowers too. If you can find some that are American Grown, so much the better. On these cloudy days, I find I need a bouquet now and again. These roses my daughter bought for my mother’s birthday dinner were so beautiful they took my breath away.

The Christmas lights have come and gone so it’s good to look at something beautiful. What are your strategies to beat the winter blues? Flowers are mine.


  1. I bought a little pot of yellow daffodils yesterday at Krogers–just to cheer me up! I am going to order one of those happy lights to see if it helps quell the Winter blues which really get me down after Christmas every year. I have been burning Volcano candles and making soup- taking care of my house plants. I can’t wait until Spring! Keep writing! I needed this!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Last year I followed your advice and got triple amaryllis bulbs in a pot to be delivered in January. January has always been such a depressing month for me, after all the excitement and beauty of Christmas is taken down and stored away. The amaryllis last year made a HUGE difference! Ordered another triple bulb pot this January. Now I have 2 big pots growing and giving me optimism every day! Thank you! I’ll have to try the hyacinths next year!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Well, Anonymous, I wish I knew who you are because I’d love to answer your comment with your name. However, I want to thank you for your comment. Stories like yours are why I still write my blog. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone out there is listening. You convinced me today that you are. Thank you.~~Dee

  3. bittster says:

    hmmmm. You say the Christmas lights have come down, guess I’ll officially put that on the list for tomorrow.
    I did treat myself to a few amaryllis this year, you’re right about treating yourself and it’s even more important on these gray winter days. I can handle bright icy mornings, but the gloomy, wet, thaws bring me way down.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      To tell the truth, I still have some “winter lights” atop the mantel. I also have some out front in my pots because they are pretty and cheerful when the world gets dark so early. So, I guess I haven’t taken everything down yet. I may not until the days get a lot longer.

  4. Truly winter blooming plants are the antidote. I have hellebores, camellias, and now sweatbox all in bloom in my Pacific Northwest winter garden. Nothing beats the gray, dreary, January skies like the fragrance of sweatbox by the front door.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Charlie, I’ve never smelled sweetbox, but it sounds quite lovely. Wish I could visit and smell it. Yesterday, I ran to the nursery and bought a small dianthus simply for the scent. I’m putting it in a blue and white container I think. Loveliness. Thanks!

  5. Larren Wood says:

    The bougainvillea I over-winter indoors is my January bright spot. For the third year, I moved it from the porch outside to the inside of the glass door in the living room. It blooms all of December & January – more than it did outside in the summer. Also have tropical hibiscus blooming inside my bedroom. I found pink & purple hyacinths being forced in glass vases at our local Walmart for $3.33 each.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Larren, I enjoy so much hearing about your blooming plants indoors. Those hyacinths were a great buy. Lucky you!

  6. Karen says:

    I am watching the snow fall here in Owasso Oklahoma. It feels like Spring will never arrive but I know it is actually just a couple months away. Thanks for your blog. It really cheered me up.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad that snow didn’t last for long. However, the cold weather was something else today. Brrr. Still, it won’t be too long now. Thank you for your kind words about my blog.

  7. dianackirby says:

    Dee – I always look forward to your winter posts highlighting your bulbs in the house. The bulbs, the special containers and vignettes that your create are beautiful and inspiring. I need to go find some of those lovely bulb vases!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Diana. That means so much to me. You have such a great sense of style. Loved hearing from you.

  8. Diana says:

    Beautiful photos – thanks for sharing.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Diana. BTW, I love your blog.

  9. indygardener says:

    Flowers are part of my strategy, too, along with seed catalog browsing. Love the hyacinths and that sweet lily of the valley.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Yes Carol, what would we do without our seed catalogs. I’m so glad you introduced me to lily of the valley last year. Its scent is scrumptious.

  10. My indoor plants get a whole lot more attention this time of year. The black truffles begonia has several blooms as does the orchids. The amaryllis that was in the wax performed well. It didn’t last as long as I remembered a normally grown one does but it was very pretty. I have hyacinths sending up buds outside now. They will be sorry day after tomorrow when a real winter cool down arrives. I envy you your greenhouse. What fun that would be. I will have to enjoy a greenhouse vicariously.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, I had to go look up Black Truffles begonia. I love begonias especially in terrariums. The enclosed environment helps me remember to water. Haha. Thanks for the review of the amaryllis in wax. I think it would bloom less time because it got little water and nutrients, but if it gets people gardening, I say hurrah! You could dig up one of those little hyacinths, rinse off the roots and set it on vase. Just a thought.

  11. jchapstk says:

    I love those vases. I will have to start prowling the thrift shops to find some.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Jeavonna, when you find some, show pictures! 🙂

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