During the coldest months of the year, activity in the garden has come to a complete standstill. Without the bright summer sunshine, some may feel at a loss. Often, I find myself counting the days until I am once again able to work the soil outdoors. Fortunately, for those of us who are eager to begin growing again, there are other options.
Growing plants indoors through the winter is an excellent way to bring color into the home and satisfy our need to grow something green. Forcing flower bulbs over winter is one way to do this.
Forcing Amaryllis Blooms in Winter
Flower forcing is a process where bulbs are made to bloom early. Usually, this includes a chilling period which triggers bloom in the bulbs. While many different types of spring flowering bulbs can be forced indoors, amaryllis flowers require only minimal effort and care. This makes them one of my personal favorites.
Ranging in color from white to tones of deep red, large amaryllis bulbs will produce several flowers per plant. Tall flower stalks may require staking, but are generally carefree beyond regular watering. When ordered from suppliers and potted up, many varieties of amaryllis plant begin to bloom as early as December, others much later. This flexibility in bloom time is just one of many reasons that amaryllis is a popular winter gift and holiday decor item.
To begin growing your own amaryllis flowers, bulbs should be purchased from a reputable source. Since larger bulbs will produce more blooms, it may be worth the extra investment. Next, choose a container (with drainage holes) that is several inches larger than the bulb. Plant the bulb into a well-draining potting mix, so that the tip is above the soil level. Water the pot well at planting. Avoid overwatering the container, as amaryllis bulbs may be prone to rot.
You can lengthen the display of amaryllis flowers in winter through the selection of different varieties, as well as succession planting. Amaryllis bulbs that have not yet been planted can be stored in a cool, dark place. Unlike some forced bulbs, amaryllis plants do not need to be discarded after blooming. Simply deadhead the spent flowers and allow the plant to continue growing. With proper care, you can save these bulbs and get them to rebloom.
Growing plants indoors not only helps fend off those winter blues but forcing flower bulbs, like amaryllis, can make a great winter gift and holiday décor plant for sharing with others.