You can keep your paperwhites. Yes, I know they're foolproof to force. But to me, grape hyacinths mean spring. So this year I decided to pass on the no-brainer bulbs to instead see just how hard it would be to force (or should I say, strongly encourage?) muscari bulbs to bloom indoors.
For materials and step-by-step instructions, see below:
Photographs by Michelle Slatalla
Above: The trick to getting muscari bulbs to bloom is to persuade them that spring has arrived after they've endured a long, cold winter. For this to work, you have to put them in a cool, dark place to simulate winter. My plan was to keep them captive in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator for eight weeks, and then parole them to sunlight and warmth. As you can see…they fell for it.
Above: I decided to force the bulbs in my favourite April Vase; 187€ from Tsé & Tsé. It consists of 21 linked test tubes that you can bend into a variety of shapes—an "S" snaking down the middle of the table, for instance, or a circle, or a straight line on the windowsill.
Muscari flowers get leggy; a tall, narrow vase that holds each bulb snugly in the bottom will prevent leaves from flopping before flowers bloom.
Above: In addition to a vase, you'll need a few other materials.
Next page: materials and instructions