A dozen long-stemmed roses could be one way to treat your Valentine, but why not think beyond that box this year with something novel, something unique. This is the season when shops and supermarket floral departments are laden with the widest selection of fun, affordable bulb flowers in pots.

These winter wonders are largely spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths that have been brought into flower early by nursery growers using an age-old process called forcing. Forced bulbs might more accurately be called fooled bulbs, as the growers use a combination of cooling and light treatments to trick the bulbs into flowering early.

The happy results of this deceptive behavior are stocks of colorful flowers ready to be scooped up and taken home to brighten winter days and send Valentine hearts a’fluttering. Normally sold in modest plastic pots, forced bulbs lend themselves to a variety of creative decorating ideas. At home, they can be featured as is or repotted into new containers. Another option is double potting in which the plastic pot is slipped inside a second, slightly larger and prettier pot called a cachepot (from the French word for hidden pot).

No matter how you choose to display forced bulb flowers, following some simple tips from the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center will heighten enjoyment of these colorful, mid-winter bloomers.

• Buy green and watch them grow: For longest enjoyment, choose potted plants with tight buds or barely open flowers, not those already in full bloom. In these plants, the flower is fully formed and ready to burst forth for your enjoyment at home. In winter, it’s just as much fun to watch the green plants grow as it is to watch the velvety flowers bloom.

• Dress down or up: Potted bulbs are great displayed casually in their plastic nursery pots or wrapped in decorative foil. Or they can easily go upscale dolled up in myriad ways by using more decorative containers, repotting or using the double pot cachepot technique.

• To repot: Select a container that has a drainage hole at the bottom (later, place a plate or saucer below the pot to protect table tops from moisture). Transplant the bulbs by gently removing the plants, soil and all, from their nursery pot. Then simply replant into the new pot. For a more dramatic display, consider bringing home several inexpensive pots of flowers to combine by repotting into one larger container. Combining pots is a fun, easy way to creatively garden indoors in the middle of winter.

• To double pot with a cachepot: Select a decorative container that’s large enough to hold the existing plant, pot and all. In this case the inner nursery pot provides drainage, the outer pot is for show. You can even use this technique in porous containers such as baskets, but you might want to add a plastic tray at the bottom to catch any leaks.

• So easy, so colorful: Water potted bulbs as needed, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. To enjoy maximum bloom time, avoid placing blooming plants in direct sunlight, in drafty spots or next to sources of heat.

Yeah, I’ll admit it may be pushing the season just a wee bit, but who’s going to complain? Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lynette L. Walther is the recipient of the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award and the Florida Magazine Association’s Silver Award of Writing Excellence. She is a member of the Garden Writers Association. She gardens in Camden.