Nothing can break winter gloom, like a bloom. Amaryllis and Paperwhites are flowering bulbs that easily bloom indoors during a time when not much else does. They don’t require cold treatment and are incredibly easy to grow, making them a great gift plant for the holiday season. Bulbs are usually available for purchase in October.
Some instructions for growing these plants from bulbs suggest using pebbles and water, but we find that growing them in soil is even easier. Be aware that Amaryllis and Paperwhites are poisonous to pets and toxic to humans, so take care to keep them out of reach of pets and children.
Amaryllis have 6-10 inch, showy blooms on a 1-2 foot tall stalk and are usually available in such colors as red, pink, white salmon, apricot, or rose in single or double forms. They bloom about 8 weeks after planting.
Use a container that is 2 inches larger in diameter than the bulb and several inches deeper. Fill bottom with soil, place bulb on top. Fill around the bulb with more soil and firm, leaving the neck of the bulb uncovered (about one fourth).
Thoroughly water the soil after planting and refrain from watering again until new growth is visible. Place in bright, indirect light where it is ideally 68-70 degrees F. Once new growth is visible, water regularly to maintain moderately moist soil.
Oftentimes, Amaryllis is treated as an annual and disposed of after it blooms. However, it can re-bloom next year with some extra care.
In order to bloom next year, the bulb needs to grow its leaves and store food over the summer. After flowering, remove spent flowers, but leave the stalk until it turns yellow, and keep the leaves growing indoors until outdoor temperatures warm up in the spring. Fertilize once a month with water-soluble fertilizer. After the last frost, set the pot outdoors or plant in a bed. Continue watering as needed, and fertilize every 2 weeks throughout the summer.
By mid-September, remove the plant from the soil, shake off excess soil, and trim leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb. Place in a paper bag and store it in a cool, dry, dark location for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Repot the bulb in November to start the process over again.
Paperwhites produce several very fragrant blooms on multiple stems. They are the only kind of daffodil that doesn’t require a cold period, so they bloom indoors. They usually bloom about 2-4 weeks after planting.
Use a container that is slightly deeper than the height of the bulbs. Fill bottom with soil, place bulbs on top. Fill around the bulb with more soil and firm, leaving the top of the bulb uncovered.
Thoroughly water the soil after planting and refrain from watering again until new growth is visible. Place in bright, indirect light where it is ideally 60-65 degrees F. Once new growth is visible, water regularly to maintain moderately moist soil. Sometimes as roots are forming, the bulb will begin to push itself out of the soil. Simply push the bulb back into the soil and firm soil to keep it in place.
Unlike Amaryllis, Paperwhite bulbs cannot be saved for another season of bloom, and are simply disposed of once they stop blooming.