If you take a look around at this time of year, things can look pretty bleak – there are no leaves on the trees, the ground is far from green and your home is probably drier than the Sahara from the heat being on all the time.
As we enter the homestretch before what's likely the most anticipated seasonal transition, here are 11 ways you can liven up your home with the fresh look of flowers and plants – and how to keep them thriving.
1 Choose hardy plants that will survive winter conditions
"Few plants really thrive on the low light and dry air conditions in our homes," says horticultural expert and Canadian Gardening contributor Anne Marie Van Nest, who recommends tougher plants like the peace lily, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, philodendron, mother-in-law's tongue, Pothos and cast-iron plant.
2 Force flowers to bloom before spring
Cut a few branches from a dormant tree, such as a forsythia or cherry tree, four to six weeks before it would normally bloom and bring them indoors to entice a few buds to open. Choose branches with immature buds and place them in a container half filled with water and floral preservative.
3 Choose double-duty plants
An attractive plant stand full of potted gems can also serve as air purifiers. Studies done several years ago by NASA concluded that houseplants can remove chemical pollutants in your home and purify the air. NASA's list of clean-air plants includes heartleaf and elephant ear philodendrons, English ivy, spider plant, weeping fig, bamboo or reed palm, and snake plant.
4 Skip the spice rack
Choose a windowsill that gets more than six hours of sun a day and plant some of your favourite herbs, such as basil, chives and thyme. You'll add some leafy colour to your room and be able to reap the benefits by incorporating them into your favourite dishes while cooking.
5 Grow a garden under glass
Add interest to a room with a terrarium. Any glass container with a lid will do. Create a drainage layer of charcoal and potting soil, add a layer of pebbles and choose small or slow-growing plants that will thrive in a moist environment in a variety of textures and heights. Try dwarf ferns, such as maidenhair, flame violets, fittonia and pilea. Finish the look with natural elements, such as mosses, lichens and rocks, close the lid and voila: your own mini garden.
6 Create an optical illusion
Put your floral arranging skills to work and create a display from silk flowers. If you're worried about the tacky fabric blooms from the 80s, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the selection you can find in craft stores, like Michael's, that includes lifelike-looking stems and brilliant artificial flowers. Place them on a buffet out of arm’s reach and no one will be the wiser.