By William Mills
Early spring and the sunshine outside looks so inviting, yet there is still a nip in the air and windows need to remain firmly shut. So what better than a beautifully scented indoor plant to lift our moods and encourage us to look forward to the warm days to come?
Hyacinths are a firm favourite because they are widely available from garden centres, florists and some supermarkets. They are cheap, easy to grow and their flowers have a wonderful fragrance.
Hyacinths grow from bulbs producing tall vertical stems crowned with an array of blues, purples and other colourful blooms. Once over, the dead stems can be cut away and the bulbs stored for planting next autumn, however they never are quite as good as second time around. Hyacinths belong to a group called cultivars, which is the name given to plants selected by careful breeding and maintained by propagation. Most ornamental plants and food crops are cultivars.
One word of caution- Hyacinths are toxic and can cause mild skin irritation so handle with care or use gloves.
However the lingering scent is magnificent. Try buying several at different stages of opening in order to create an ongoing fragrance lasting for several weeks. A refinement is to place different scented plants around the home so the scent subtlety changes from one area to another.
Roses also produce a lovely fragrance, and we will explore whether it is possible to keep them as house plants as the summer progresses.