Saturday, December 10, 2011

Amaryllis Blooms

What could be a better gift at this time of year than the promise of life and colour? Amaryllis bulbs come in an assortment of pretty colours and the size of the blooms never fail to amaze. It is such an easy gift to put together for someone. All you need is an amaryllis bulb, some potting soil and a container.

If you have ever had the disappointment of growing an amaryllis bulb that put forth luscious green leaves but never developed a bloom, do not despair. I have a small "tip" that will ensure that this never happens again. When you buy a bulb, take a close look at it. If this means opening the box that the amaryllis comes in, then don't be shy, open that box up and have a look inside.

After several large disappointments, I will never buy another amaryllis bulb without first performing this simple inspection:

Look around the top of the bulb for new growth. If there are no tips showing, then put that box back and keep trying until you find a bulb with at least the beginnings of white or green tips showing. (Don't worry that the new growth is white, it will turn green once it has been exposed to the light for a short period.)

You will notice that one tip may look a little different from the other. One tip has a little indent, or notch, at the top (the lower tip in the photo above). This is a flower bud. The tip without an indent (the upper tip in the photo) is a leaf. If you are lucky or willing to check enough bulbs, you will be rewarded by finding bulbs that have not only one flower bud tip, but two!

This amaryllis has two flower buds and several leaves coming up through the middle. Now, here's the next important point. If you buy a kit, your amaryllis bulb will come with a plastic pot of some description. While the plastic pot will do the job and certainly you can use it, why not make your gift a little more pleasing to the eye and to the delight of the recipient by using a lovely pot instead? That doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot of money on an expensive pot. It doesn't even mean that it has to be a new pot! The ceramic pot here was a $1.99 thrift shop find.

Just fill up your pot with some potting soil and place your bulb firmly on top, pressing down gently until it is securely nestled in the soil. (These bulbs like to be exposed at the top.) If you like you can cover the soil with some moss, or pebbles, or anything else you can dream up. Give it a little water and set it in a well-lit spot.

After several weeks, the stems will grow quite tall and the bud or buds will begin to open. Add a festive ribbon and it will be ready to give away. Or, give it to someone as soon as you've potted it and allow the recipient to watch it grow day by day. Once those gigantic trumpet-like flowers appear, it will seem like a little magic has occurred. A burst of colour to brighten a winter's day.

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