If you’re looking for the perfect gift—for friends, colleagues, neighbors or yourself— add an amaryllis to your shopping list this year. An amaryllis adds instant grace and elegance
to your home, and is truly a delightful gift that keeps on giving. It’s the perfect winter houseplant
that bestows old-world charm and color to your home. Even better, once the bulb blooms,
the glorious flowers last a long time, and it is easy to make these bulbs re-bloom year after year.
Originating in the tropical climate of South America, amaryllis blooms boast beautiful colors—from cool white to vibrant pink and orange. They are perfect for decorations during the winter holidays in shades of salmon and red. For a more unusual look, try ones that offer striped flowers in hues of pinks and reds with white stripes (just like a candy cane!).
A Gift for the Holidays…and Beyond
Amaryllis bulbs are easy to grow. You can start them yourself or purchase them already potted and ready to bloom. Potted amaryllis bulbs are a popular item at local garden and home shops this time of year. If they are just starting to bud, bring them home or deliver them to friends just in time for their spectacular show. These beautiful flowers with their vibrant green stems are easy gifts as the show is all in the flowers—just add a bow or purchase a cute gift bag, and delivery is easy. Your friends and neighbors will love this instant, long-lasting decoration. A row of them on your dining table is a centerpiece that requires little care throughout the holiday season. They can also add a bright spot to the dark winter days in the new year.
Plant Your Own
If you want to plant your own bulbs, know that they will flower seven to ten weeks after planting. If you start with the bare bulb, put it in water for a few hours; slightly warm water alerts the roots to start growth. While your bulb is soaking, find a beautiful container that accents your home. If you are not ready to plant your bulbs when you bring them home, store them in a cool place where the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees. Select dry, firm bulbs; these are signs of a healthy amaryllis. Larger amaryllis bulbs cost more because they will produce more flowers. You can choose these or purchase smaller ones and enjoy watching them grow each year.
Once you choose your pot, fill the bottom half with good potting soil. Place the amaryllis bulb in the pot and add soil until most of the bulb is covered. Press down the soil so the bulb is firmly held in place. Gently water the bulb and find a sunny, warm spot for it. Amaryllis plants prefer direct sunlight with a consistent temperature of 68 to 70 degrees. Until the stem starts to peep out of the bulb, your amaryllis doesn’t need much water. Once the stem appears, water when the soil feels dry. The fun of an amaryllis is that the plant grows quickly once it starts. Dramatic clusters of large blooms will reward your few minutes of planting time.
Let’s Make It Pretty
Amaryllis bulbs are fun to accessorize; it is easy to personalize them for your home decor. There are lots of ways to showcase your beautiful blooming bulb.
Monochrome: Find a glossy white ceramic planter and add a white amaryllis. The fresh green shoots and the white play off each other for a calm, elegant look. Or try a silver polished planter for a formal look.
Rustic: There is nothing more beautiful than a simple clay pot containing an amaryllis bulb. The light green stalks give rise to a pop of color at the top. If you are lucky, there will be two or three flowers from one bulb.
Contemporary: Use a tall glass cylinder vase to steal the show. Place a few pebbles in the bottom, add soil and the bulb half way to the top. Leave room for the stem to grow and have the glass sides support its heavy top.
How Shall We Dress It?
Gift bags are a great way to give plants a lift. Choose one made of plastic made especially for plants; their ribbon handles make carrying easy.
Find a metal stake to add whimsy to your gift as well as support the heavy stem and flowers. Amaryllis stems grow from 12 to 24 inches tall depending upon the age and size of the bulb, so they can use some support. Garden shops offer many designs and materials from bamboo to metal. Some stakes are topped with fun ornaments—birds, ladybugs and frogs. Plain red or green bamboo stakes are good choices. Some come formed into a lattice shape that will support the larger, heavier bulbs with several stalks and flowers.
Bows can be raffia to coordinate with clay pots or wired ribbon for a more classic china pot. This is the fun of amaryllis bulbs. They look great in many different types of pots and offer chances to embellish, so your gift is unique and specific to each person who receives it.
Let’s Do It Again
Re-blooming is easy. Once your amaryllis flowers droop, cut them from the stem. You don’t want your bulb to go to seed, so cut the flowers before they fall off. When the stem changes color and sags, cut it back to the top of the bulb. When you cut the stem at the top of the bulb, it may ooze liquid. That is normal; it shows that your bulb was watered and is healthy. Keep your bulb in a sunny spot and it will grow leaves. These leaves absorb sunlight and produce the nutrients that will go back in the bulb and allow it to re-bloom. Keep the soil moist and use an organic, liquid fertilizer once a month.
During the summer, your amaryllis bulb can be outdoors. Some gardeners even plant them in the garden during their leaf phase. In a container outside, you need to make sure it stays well watered. Inside, it needs little care; just keep the soil slightly moist. Come late September, your bulb needs to come inside. Amaryllis cannot survive frosts, so it is time to set it aside. Like all of us, amaryllis bulbs need their rest—two to three months—in order to bloom again.
Place your amaryllis in a cool dark place for the next few months. What a great decoration to have waiting in the wings! Each year can lead to a new look. You can change the appearance by using a different pot. Use a larger pot each year and replant it so the bulb will continue to grow and produce more flowers each time it blooms. Just get some fresh potting soil so the nutrients are good. You’ll want to keep your amaryllis bulb and use it again because, like all good things (think wine and cheese!), it gets better with age. The bulb grows larger each year; the larger the bulb, the bigger the flower, so each year you get more show. What a great tradition to start! Add an amaryllis bulb to your holiday decorations and watch it grow.