Give a holiday gift that is guaranteed to bring joy and feelings of well-being. Research by Rutgers University found the gift of flowers generates a smile, elevates the recipient’s mood, and provides feelings of happiness that last for days. Amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs make it easy for anyone to enjoy these benefits by growing their own living bouquet of flowers.
Non-gardeners will appreciate receiving an amaryllis or paperwhite gift kit that includes the bulb, soil and pot. All they need to do is open the box, water the soil, and wait for the beauty to unfurl. Or make your own ready-to-grow gifts by purchasing bulbs and planting them in decorative pots.
Each amaryllis bulb sends up multiple stems topped with flowers that can measure up to eight inches across. Nurturing amaryllis or paperwhites from bulb to bloom requires no experience or special care, but answers to any questions can be found at LongfieldGardens.com.
Are there gardeners on your list? Keep it simple by selecting some winter-blooming amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs and tucking them into an attractive gift bag. While most people are familiar with the classic red amaryllis, there are many other colors and flower styles to choose from. Make your gift extra special by ordering some of these less-common varieties.
Elvas is a double white amaryllis with petals outlined in red. As the flowers mature, they gradually open wider and the red highlights become more apparent.
Giant Amadeus features layers of petals that start out white and blush to pink, coral and salmon. The color and intensity increase as the petals open.
For a twist on traditional red, consider Magical Touch. Its cherry red blossoms have broad, ruffled petals edged in white. When the flowers are fully open, they are flat rather than trumpet shaped.
Ruby Star is another uncommon amaryllis. Classified as a papillon or butterfly amaryllis, it has large, irregular-shaped petals in a striking color combination of wine red and apple green.
Brighten dark winter days with the cheery, lemony yellow flowers of amaryllis Yellow Star. Each bulb will send up multiple stems topped with four to six long-lasting flowers.
The flowers of amaryllis Cape Horn feature big, rounded petals in a lovely shade of rose-pink. Each blossom has a white star at the center and a lime green throat.
Most amaryllis bulbs begin flowering eight to 10 weeks after planting. Paperwhite narcissus bulbs bloom in half the time and can be grown in soil or a shallow bowl of stones and water. For maximum fragrance, plant Ziva paperwhites. Varieties such as Nir and Inbal produce the same snowy-white flowers but have a much lighter fragrance.
Store winter-blooming bulbs in a cool, dry and dark place until you are ready to plant. Once you pot up the bulbs and place them in a warm, bright location, they will break dormancy and begin to sprout. Watching as the stems emerge, buds develop, and flowers appear is all part of the fun.
Be sure to order a couple extra bulbs for yourself. You will enjoy the stress relief these beautiful winter bulbs provide during the holiday season and long winter months.
Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including “Small Space Gardening.” She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Longfield Gardens for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is MelindaMyers.com.