Amaryllis in the Morning

'Exotica' amaryllis
‘Exotica’ amaryllis

I’ve been the recipient of several homeless houseplants over the past couple of years, so I’m hesitant to add too many more to my collection. But when the folks at Longfield Gardens offered me (and several other garden writers) a free amaryllis kit this fall, I was happy to give it a try, and am surprised by how truly stunning the amaryllis is turning out to be.

The kit came with a whopping big bulb, a cute tin container, some soil, mulch and instructions. Back in November, the kit arrived, and I potted it up on Nov. 17. Per the instructions, I gave it a pretty thorough watering, and that was probably the last time I watered it. In a few weeks, the bloom stalk appeared and it grew so fast that I started to measure it. One day it was 11 inches, then 12-1/2, then 17. It topped out at just over 20 inches without the blooms.

amaryllis plantI was hoping the bulb would bloom in time for Christmas, but it started blooming about a week later. The bulb was located in my kitchen sink window, which is the sunniest spot I have in December, but possibly not as warm as the bulb would have liked.

The blooms are a delicate cream color with streaks of yellow and apricot. I’ve been posting a few shots on Instagram and it’s fun to see how the Instagram filters change the look of the bulb. (The photo above is without any filtering.)

The blooms should last another week or so. There’s also a second stalk coming off the bulb which looks like it will bloom after this one fades. You can keep amaryllis bulbs for use the next winter. This involves removing the flower stalks and setting the bulb and its leaves in a sunny spot over the winter before moving it outside in the summer to build up the nutrition the bulb needs to bloom again.

For more information about forcing bulbs, check out the November/December issue of Northern Gardener. There is a fine article by Margaret Haapoja on which bulbs to force into bloom and how to do it.


Last Minute Gift for Gardeners

Several of my fellow bloggers — here, here, and here — have been suggesting gifts for gardeners. We are getting down to the last minute for Christmas, so for procrastinators, who are also gardeners, here’s a quick, low-cost and low-impact-on-the-environment gift: A gift bag with seeds (saved or purchased) and some homemade jelly.

I prepared this small gift for my mail carrier (who is also a gardener) but it would be appropriate as a hostess gift or small token of thanks for another service provider. I had some seeds saved from two unique plants, Pete’s marigolds and Yvonne’s giant salvia, and packaged them up in homemade seed packets, using the template available from Fine Gardening magazine’s website. You can decorate the package anyway you like, so I printed out photos from my collection and plant nametags. To round out the gift, I added a jar of homemade raspberry jelly.

Simple, easy, homemade, and it didn’t require a trip to the mall.