When I'm talking about getting plants to flower indoors, I prefer the word "coax" over "force." It sounds kinder, doesn't it? Well, coaxing Lily of the Valley to bloom indoors is a very good thing to do in May when you're greedy for all the springtime you can get.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
Above: I bought a pot of already-started pips a little more than a week ago and settled them into their new urban home. Today? There are blooms.
Above: If you live by a nursery that has Lily of the Valley already started in pots, your work is practically finished. To avoid disturbing the roots, I decided against repotting the pips in favor of disguising the pot I used garden scissors to trim off the top inch of my pot. If you're looking for a new, sharp pair, see 10 Easy Pieces: Floral Scissors.
Above: I lined an old wooden box with a bit of parchment for protection and slipped my plastic pot on top of that.
Above: After the pot was nestled into a corner, I used moss that I picked up at a local florist shop to cover the edges of the pot. You can also use preserved moss; Green Dried Preserved Moss is $2.99 from Jamali Garden.
Above: I broke my moss into smaller bits so that it fit neatly around my pot, but didn't cover any of the emerging pips.
Above: The wooden box fit squarely enough on our windowsill, which gets filtered light for most of the day. I made sure to give the pips a good drenching mist every morning and night. For similar results, you could use a Brass Plant Mister ($20 from Terrain).
Above: Ten days later, there were flowers.
Above: If you're hoping to get your hands a little bit more dirty, you can also plant Lily of the Valley pips directly yourself, though in my experience whether they'll flower is a bit more of a gamble.
Above: A bag of pips I picked up at a local nursery came with soil which I moistened before planting. A kit of 12 Lily of the Valley Pips Plus Potting Soil is $45 from White Flower Farm.
Above: I gave a small trim to too-long roots and then potted them in an assortment of small glass jars.
Above: I left just a small bit of the pips exposed and placed them on my windowsill alongside my other plants.
Above: The pips that I started myself grew quickly, but they're not showing any signs of flowering. I'm not sure if it's because I didn't use pips that have been specially prepared for growth indoors, but happily, I've gotten my landlord to agree to let me transplant the experiment outdoors. Here's hoping that they might flower some other spring.
For more about Lily of the Valley, your grandmother's favorite plant, see Would Spring Still Smell Like Spring Without Lily of the Valley?