Want your gifts to be memorable this year, but not break your budget to give them? Go big and bold by giving Amaryllis, a bodacious bloomer that’s sure to please. Easy to grow, they’re practically foolproof, having all they need to thrive carried inside the bulb.
You don’t need an advanced degree or greenhouse to grow them, all you do is give them a pot, some soil and a place to grow to have huge plants as the holidays draw near. Start them now – they’ll be ready to bloom in eight to ten weeks, just after you give them away.
Available in doubles, pinwheels, or trumpets, there’s an Amaryllis for every decor. Dutch (Hippeastrum spp.) are the large, trumpet-shaped flowers easily found in local stores. These tried and true beauties are ideal for beginners who want to try keeping the bulb going year after year.
Look for bestseller Apple Blossom, a delicate china-white blushed with pink, or Amigo in deep, rich, carmine. For an elegant touch, try Samba, with red petals outlined in a pencil-thin trail of white.
Miniature Amaryllis come in smaller bulbs, but produce more blooms. They typically cost more, but if you have a gardener who’s hard to please, the Cybisters (Hippeastrum cybister) have a wispy look with slender, delicate petals and long pollen-holding sepals. Give them one of these unusual varieties, or go with the over-the-top blossoms of the double bloomers.
Amaryllis bulbs come loose or in kits with a small pot and a little soil. When shopping, avoid bulbs with half-grown sprouts; those trying to fight their way out of the box have lost their quality. Larger bulbs have more flower stalks, and bulb suppliers are required to list bulb size on the label. Bulbs under 10 1/4 inches usually produce only one stalk.
To grow them as gifts:
Soak the roots in lukewarm water for an hour. Select a pot two to three inches wider than the bulb. Fill halfway with potting soil, place the bulb in the center and add a little more soil around the bulb. Plant them so that the top half of the bulb is left above the soil.
Water once and wait for sprouting to begin before watering again, unless the soil completely dries out. During growth, keep the soil evenly moist by dampening the soil – take care not to pour water onto the bulb itself.
Once the bulbs sprouts, place it in a cool room in bright, indirect light, and hold off on fertilizing. Tie floppy stalks to thin supports slid into the soil next to the bulb to keep them from toppling.
Choose a warmer day for gift giving, since you don’t want the flower to go into shock. Protect them in a gift bag that is tall enough to close over the top of the flowers, then go from your house to their new home as quickly as possible.
Today’s post can also be found in the Longmont Ledger. Dear FCC: suggestions contained in today’s post are provided without compensation or gifts by any of the offering retailers. I just like these plants.