Bulbs Will Brighten Your Holidays with Christmas Color

Lucy Mercer
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This holiday season, fill your home with the color and fragrance of Christmas bulbs. Look for boxes of amaryllis and paperwhites to give as gifts and to beautify your home. Plant in early November to ensure a houseful of blooms by Christmas.

Amaryllis

This is the truth: There is no such thing as an ugly amaryllis. These blooms are stunning, with multiple trumpet-shaped blooms on a single stem. The colors are Christmas card ready, in bright red, salmon and white. Apple Blossom has a blush of pink on the bloom. Minerva has a red bloom with a white star center.

Amaryllis kits give gardeners of all abilities a green thumbs up. Begin by rehydrating the cocopeat planting disk, place 2/3 of the mixture in the container, add the bulb, and surround with remaining growing medium.

To fancy up the plant, place it in a decorative container or basket. Place near a sunny window in a room with a minimum temperature of 65 to 75 degrees.

Photo by Lucy Mercer

Within a few weeks, watch as nature shows off right in front of you with beautiful blooms. Keep the growing medium moist, not wet, and pick up the watering once the flower stalk appears.

Once the bloom shows, pull back from direct sunlight to prolong the flowering period.

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This show-off flower deserves a special display, whether on a mantel, entry table or buffet. It will draw oohs and aahs from your holiday guests.

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Paperwhites

Paperwhites have all the panache of amaryllis, they just work as a team. Where amaryllis is a solitary stunner, paperwhites leverage their spunky stems and fragrant blooms in mass plantings. Pick up a kit of paperwhites at the Garden Center. 

Photo by Lucy Mercer

Here’s how to plant the paperwhites that come from a kit: rehydrate the disk, fill the pot 3/4 full of potting medium, place the paperwhite bulbs with pointed ends up, and snug them in with the remaining growing medium. Keep the top 1/4 of the bulb exposed above the surface. 

Just like amaryllis, paperwhites like a minimum temperature of 65 to 75 and need to be near bright light to encourage growth.

Water to keep the growing medium moist, but not wet. After the flower stalks appear, increase watering.

Once blooms appear, pull away from bright light to prolong the blooms.

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Paperwhites also take well to forcing in water. See our story on giving bulbs as gifts for instructions on rooting paperwhites in water.

As paperwhites grow leggy, you’ll need to tie a bit of ribbon or twine around the stems for support. They are also fragrant and ideal for displaying in bunches around your house during the holidays.

Unlike amaryllis, where a dedicated gardener can get new blooms, paperwhites will not bloom again. When they’ve played out, just toss them in the compost pile. 

See our story on Forcing Bulbs: Bright Blooms for Dreary Days for details on the steps necessary to get an amaryllis to rebloom. 

And check out this video for more amaryllis growing tips.

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