It’s November. The leaves are fading, the days are short and growing cold. There’s a good chance it’s gray out. Don’t mope. Do something hopeful – plant bulbs for winter bloom.

There are two basic kinds: those that require a period of cold temperatures to break dormancy, and those that don’t.

In the latter category are paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis. Just put them in a pot according to directions, water them and put them someplace out of sight in your house until they begin to sprout. At that point, bring them out where they can be seen. You can actually produce paperwhite blooms by putting the bulbs into a dish, about 4 inches high, filling around the bulbs with small stones and keeping water in the dish, up to the bulb. There are special “bulb forcing” vases that can be used to produce blooms without soil or the small stones. Find the stones, bulbs and, sometimes, the glass forcing vase at local nurseries right now.

Bulbs that must be chilled in order to bloom inside include daffodils, tulips, narcissus, crocus and scilla. Plant pots fairly full – about six tulip bulbs in a 6-inch pot, for example – and cover the bulbs by an inch or two of soil.

These bulbs are particular about the temperature: chill them in an area cooler than 45 degrees but warmer than 32 degrees. A root cellar, unheated attic, partly heated garage or even your refrigerator (but not near fruit and vegetables) – all will work. Sources vary on how long you must chill the bulbs. Some say as little as 10 weeks, others as many as 16, but I’d go with 12. Check the drain hole at the bottom of the pot: if roots are showing, the pot is ready to come in from the cold.

Once you bring the bulbs into your home, keep them at about 60 degrees and dark until they sprout, and then keep them warmer and brighter as they come into bloom.

If you plant bulbs now, you will have lots of bright tulips and daffodils and fragrant hyacinths in February, just when you are really getting sick of the cold and snow. — TOM ATWELL