Amaryllis are tropical bulbs that bloom in the winter indoors with dramatically large, trumpet-shaped flowers on tall, sturdy stems. Bloom colors range from red and pink to white or bi-colored depending on the variety.
- Soak dry roots in luke-warm water 1–2 hours before planting (not necessary, but may hasten growth process).
- Place 2 inches of potting soil in bottom of pot. Amaryllis bulbs like to sit with ⅓ of bulb above soil line, so place bulb and gently pack soil between roots; should be about 1 inch of soil between bulb and edge of pot—tight fit preferred.
Light & Location
- Bright, indirect light is ideal, but medium light is fine too. Rotate so plant grows straight (not bending towards light).
- Rapidly growing plants may need to be staked to remain straight, but be careful not to pierce bulb with the stake.
- Amaryllis bulbs make great gifts, are easy to grow, and are rewarding for all ages and skill levels, but all parts of the plant are toxic and should be kept away from kids/pets.
- Water once after you first pot up Amaryllis bulb, then sparingly until sprout is well out of the bulb (2–3 inches).
- Then water regularly and you will soon see spectacular blooms, 4–6 per stalk, 2–3 stalks depending on bulb size.
- It can take 6–12 weeks to produce a flower. Warm, sunny conditions can speed things up, but once the bud opens, it can be moved to a cooler spot indoors to slow it down and be enjoyed for a longer time.
- When blooms fade, cut off tubular flower stem near top of bulb, leaving foliage to continue growing.
- Water as usual; apply water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks.
- Once danger of frost is past, move Amaryllis bulb outdoors to enjoy summer sun. Continue fertilizer program every 4 weeks; necessary for next round of indoor forcing.
- In early autumn (late September or early October), bring Amaryllis inside and allow to completely dry out (can take several weeks). Cut off dry leaves and let “rest” for 6 weeks.
- Repot in new soil and start process all over again!
Paperwhites are a type of narcissus that can be grown indoors without a chilling period. Each bulb will produce several flower stalks and bloom with a cluster of small, white, star-shaped flowers that are highly fragrant and usually last a few weeks.
- Paperwhites can be grown without going through a cold storage period.
- Fill pot halfway with soil, rocks, or pebbles. Set bulb(s) gently in soil and pack more soil around bulbs, leaving tips visible. If using rocks, leave ⅓ of bulb uncovered.
Light & Location
- Once they begin to grow, place in window sill or area that receives plenty of light.
- Planting paperwhites every 10–14 days allows continuing profusion of blooms throughout entire winter season. Store unplanted bulbs in cool, dry place that doesn’t freeze.
- If plants must be staked, consider cutting branches from garden (red twig dogwood, curly willow, Japanese maple).
- All members of the Narcissus family are considered toxic and should be kept away from children and pets.
A common problem with paperwhites is that they often grow too tall and flop over. Recent research conducted by the Flower bulb Research Program at Cornell University has found a simple and effective way to reduce stem and leaf growth of paperwhites. The “secret” is using dilute solutions of alcohol. Properly used, the result is paperwhites that are 1/3 to 1/2 shorter, with equal sized flowers that last as long as normal.
What to do: We suggest planting your paperwhite bulbs in stones, gravel, marbles, glass beads, etc. as usual. Add water as you normally would, then wait about 1 week until roots are growing, and the shoot is green and growing about 1-2” above the top of the bulb. At this point, pour off the water and replace it with a solution of 4 to 6% alcohol, made from just about any “hard” liquor. You can do the calculations to figure the dilution, but, as an example, to get a 5% solution from a 40% distilled spirit (e.g., gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila), you add 1 part of the booze to 7 parts of water. This is an 8-fold dilution yielding 5% alcohol. Then, simply use this solution, instead of water, for further irrigation (watering) of your bulbs. It’s as simple as that.
A few other thoughts: do not use beer or wine, as the sugars in them will cause major problems with the plants. As with humans, paperwhites can also suffer alcohol overdoses! We suggest 4-6% alcohol as a normal and safe range. If plants are given much more than 10% alcohol, growth problems will start, and 25% alcohol is dramatically toxic. So, moderation is the key! If you do not have alcohol for consumption in your household, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) works just as well. Since this is usually 70% alcohol when purchased, a dilution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 or 11 parts water is appropriate. Why does this happen? Science! Current belief is that it is from “water stress”, where the alcohol makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water. The plant suffers a slight lack of water, enough to reduce leaf and stem growth, but not enough to affect flower size or flower longevity… Cool huh?
- Water bulbs thoroughly, allowing time for soil to absorb enough water to be thoroughly soaked. If using non-draining containers or planting in rocks, add water until it reaches bottom of bulbs (never cover bulbs; they will rot).
- Strongly scented flowers should form 4–6 weeks after potting and bloom for 10–14 days indoors. Keep water level at root level in rock plantings or evenly moist in soil.
- For shorter and sturdier plants, leave in cooler place 1–2 weeks right after planting so they form roots before much top growth; a garage/garden shed 45–55 °F works great.
- Although they are a type of Narcissus (daffodil), they are not considered hardy outdoors in our climate and should be composted after they finish blooming.