Make holiday a little greener with plants, accessories

For many gardeners, keeping that green thumb active during the winter months can become a challenge. We long to get our hands dirty and dig in to outdoor gardening projects as winter marches on. If you have a gardener on your gift list, here are a some great ideas to spread the joy of indoor gardening this holiday season.

Bulbs for forcing: Forcing bulbs now at the start of the season for bloom later this winter and early in the spring is a great way to bring that color and fragrance indoors. Buy bulbs for forcing and pot them up. Place in a cool location. Most bulbs require 12 to 16 weeks of cold treatment before they are ready to bring indoors or to a warmer spot to begin forcing.

Air plant thrillers: Tillandsia are among the hottest plants for indoor gardening. They are perfect because they require no soil and very little moisture. Simply mist occasionally. For a simple, elegant display, select a architecturally desirable branch, hang upside down and decorate by attaching Tillandsia to the twigs and branches. Gift an assortment of fun and interesting air plants and let your gardener be inspired.

Road trip fun: Gift your gardener with a winter road trip to a garden-themed destination. You might visit the Mitchell Park domes in Milwaukee for a day of winter garden dreams in the warmth and comfort of the three immense domes. A visit to garden-themed art shops, vintage shops and antique malls is another fun idea.

Hanging terrariums: Hanging indoor gardens are hot, and it is easy to assemble a fun kit of beautiful hanging terrarium planters that your gardener can create with miniature plants such as succulents, ferns, mosses and more.

Herbs indoors: Many herbs do wonderfully indoors over winter when placed in a sunny location or window. Cut and come again by keeping a selection of flavorful herbs growing all season long. Many garden centers sell ready-to-grow herb gardens, seeds and colorful containers to get your gardener started. Add an herb gardening book, and you’re all set.

Paperwhites: The beauty and elegance of paperwhite bulbs forced in pebbles, sand and water during the winter is a stunning, simple and breathtaking gift for winter weary gardeners.

African violets and orchids: The amazing world of African violets and orchids is one that many area gardeners have begun to explore. In many different shapes, sizes, textures and colors, these plants are not as touchy as many might think. There are orchids available for all types of indoor garden settings. Gift an assortment of colorful African violets and orchids and give your gardener a head start on a whole new hobby.

Rex begonias: Rex begonias are perfect for indoor growing all winter long. The stunning foliage patterns textures and shapes of these amazing plants make the perfect house plants for the winter season. Even better, your gardener can move the plants outdoors in spring for a full four seasons of bloom.

Indoor leaf casting: Garden art is a great way to continue the hobby during winter, and creating concrete leaf castings can be done just as easily indoors during winter as outdoors in summer. Use leaves of tropical plants, even store-bought lettuces and cabbages to create stunning leaf castings right in the comfort of home. Provide all the items needed — sand, concrete mixture and fun, tropical plants — and your gardener will be to create beautiful garden art.

Pet-friendly plants: Many gardeners are hesitant to begin gardening indoors because of pets, especially cats and dogs. Find a list of pet-friendly plants online and gift an assortment to your gardener friends and family members.

Hyacinth vases: Collector’s hyacinth vases, which come in many forms made out of glass, ceramic and other materials, are a great way to display hyacinth bulbs that have been pretty chilled for bloom indoors.

Themed miniature gardens: Miniature and fairy gardens are a great way to get kids and elderly family members involved in gardening. Create a theme, such as holiday garden, using miniature accessories available at many garden centers and craft stores.

Seed starting: One of the more practical and treasured indoor garden gift ideas is to create a garden gift basket containing everything your gardener needs to start growing plants from seed this winter and spring. Seeds, growing trays, growing lights, heated mats, seed starting books, seed starter mixes and more can be packaged together in fun ways for the perfect indoor garden gift.

Find Rob Zimmer online at or on Facebook at Listen to “Outdoors with Rob Zimmer” Friday 4-5 p.m. and Saturday 7-8 a.m. on WHBY.