Amaryllis and paperwhites are festive florals

December 16, 2018
Gannett News Service/Dutch Gardens Amaryllis, known botanically as Hippeastrum, like to be potbound. The Grand Cru variety is one of numerous red variations.

Even though winter is upon us there is still opportunity to enjoy fresh growing and blooming flowers in our homes. Though the poinsettia tends to dominate the stage at this time of year there are other alternatives.

Amaryllis and paperwhites are two choices that can usher us through the New Year and into January and February.

Both plants often conjure up visions of attentive behavior on our part and brown leaves on their part.

That would be the wrong impression on points because these flowers are easy to manage and display. Children could be drafted into taking care of them and their rewards could be fairly quick in the flower display.

Both plants start from a bulb, the paper whites don’t even need soil just a few stones in the bottom of a shallow pot. The amaryllis sprouts from a single bulb half way buried in soil but the paperwhites are much smaller bulbs that need to be planted several together in a cluster.

There are kits available for both plants that will walk a person through the process. The paperwhites of course are always white however the amaryllis comes in several colors red and white being dominate this time of year. Some folks prefer those over the top white blooms in January and the luscious red ones in February.

Just to understand these are not overnight blooms, a dormant bulb of either variety will need about four weeks to several months to mature and bloom. If this is a project for impatient children an adult might want to take care of this part until the plant starts to show signs of leafing. If you purchase a kit and the bulb is already spouting it won’t take nearly as long.

Both plants in full bloom are a site to behold however for all their beauty they have a hard time staying upright on their own. Plan to insert a thin stick alongside the bulbs to support the weight of the greenery and the blooms by tying them to the stick as they grow. One could get creative here and use tree branches or a cast-off curtain rod to add a little character to the display.

Water is an important factor for both varieties in that overwatering can be fatal to their survival.

Both need to have dead leaves and blooms clipped as they appear. The paperwhites once they are finished blooming are fairly well spent so most just pitch them after they are done.

The amaryllis on the other hand could be lifted from the soil and allowed to go dormant until spring arrives when they could be planted outdoors.

They hail from South Africa where they flourish in the warm weather so having another chance to bloom in the summer would be second nature to them.

More detailed instructions are available on the Internet or on the side of a kit you might purchase for each plant. One might consider buying several plants to display in a group for more impact.

Not only are these beautiful plants to introduce into your home during this season of cheer but take minimal care.

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