By forcing some spring bulbs in autumn, you can coax them into flower early, giving you an indoor display of beautiful blooms right through winter.
Some bulbs, like amaryllis (Hippeastrum) and daffodils (Narcissus), need just a short spell in a shady spot to kick-start growth. Find out how to force amaryllis bulbs for Christmas. Bulbs hailing from colder climates, such as hyacinth and muscari, need to feel winter's chill. This usually means a stint in a cool (maximum 7ºC), dark place such as a fridge, cellar or unheated shed.
Some bulbs need a longer spell than others, so it's a good idea to stagger your planting times and use a range of bulbs to lengthen the display.
As the 'winter' period ends, the bulbs can be moved to a warm, bright (avoid direct sunlight) spot, to flower. Don't let the compost dry out or become waterlogged, and keep plants away from radiators and other heat sources.
Discover how to force nine different bulbs, below.
Alliums such as Allium cowanii are more challenging, but worth a try. Use early varieties and start in autumn, potted up in gritty compost in the garden. Keep them there for 10 weeks, then move to the fridge for 10 weeks, before moving to their final cool, bright spot indoors.
Grape hyacinth (Muscari)
Grape hyacinths will also take a short while to bloom. Plant as many as will fit in small terracotta pots without touching, their roots engaged with moist bulb compost. Chill for 10 weeks, then move out to the warmth.