Winter is a humdrum time for gardeners. We can’t get out and play in the garden quite as much, and most of what we do is chores. Not much is actively growing, and there is nary a bloom in sight. So having flowers inside is a buoying experience. The sight of some blooms sends my imagination soaring to sultry summer days and gorgeous color and yummy garden treats.
For years, I would purchase paper whites and Amaryllis bulbs every fall. Following the instructions, I would start the paper whites and Amaryllis bulbs so I could count on flowers by Christmas. I tried to save my Amaryllis by pulling them after flowering and letting them dry. I would place them in a paper bag with some Sphagnum moss to nestle into. The next year I would start them the same way I had when I bought them, but I rarely succeeded in getting many blooms. Perhaps I pulled them too early or stored them improperly. Whatever the cause, I do it a completely different way now and the flowers are impossibly huge and prolific.
The internet is an amazing place. You can find the answers to some of your most perplexing questions. So after several fails at getting Amaryllis to re-bloom from the saved bulb, I consulted the all knowing internet. Turns out, I didn’t have to pull the bulb. In fact, I could keep it in soil and grow it year round. The big, strappy leaves are a tropical dream. So I kept the plant fed and watered after flowering and moved it outdoors to a bright place with some protection from noon day sun.
Lo and behold, it was gorgeous. Near fall I moved the plant indoors and continued care for a month or so. Now it was time to treat it atrociously. I moved it to the unheated attic and stopped watering. Over time the leaves drooped, turned yellow and died. Seems cruel but it is a necessary action. After 2 months, I brought it down to light and heat and resumed watering. In no time I had big leaves again and in a couple of months more flowers than ever before.
Getting Amaryllis To Re-Bloom
Now this is my annual cycle of care and neglect to be rewarded with giant, crimson flowers just in time for the holidays. I appreciate the plant’s forgiving nature, a holiday trait from which we could all learn. I often still purchase Amaryllis bulbs, but they are for gifts, with a hand written note on how to keep the plant happy until bloom time. Everyone who has received a bulb continues the care and rejection cycle with the same shameless but happy results.
I always get Amaryllis in red because it reminds me of the keynote hue of Christmas and the memories associated with the color. The pairing with Poinsettias is a blaze of color and brings in some much needed life to drab winter interiors. My Amaryllis will always be there for Christmas and provide that boost of winter flowers that decks the halls and brings holiday cheer.