Amaryllis and Paperwhite bulbs are very popular for forcing into bloom this time of year and are among the easiest to bring into bloom. It just wouldn't seem like Christmas without the large gorgeous blooms of the amaryllis. Likewise, there is nothing like the intoxicating fragrance and blooming white of paperwhite daffodils to cheer up the winter doldrums.
Forcing many bulbs to bloom indoors is quite easy, as long as you purchase those bulbs that are specifically designed to be forced. By following our simple instructions you can enjoy beautiful flowers indoors for the holidays and year-round.
- Select a container about 3-4 inches deep and as wide around as the number of Paperwhite bulbs you have. You can use a bowl, a plastic or clay pot or even a casserole dish as long as it doesn't have a drainage hole in the bottom. Put 1" of stones or gravel in the bottom of the pot and put your Paperwhite bulbs, pointed end up, on the stones. It's best if you crowd them in, just barely touching. Add more stones to fill in, and cover the bulbs up to their shoulders, leaving the tips showing. Alternatively, you can use a hyacinth vase or other narrow-necked jar or vase for single bulbs.
- Fill the bowl with water so it's just touching the bottom of the bulb. Not too much, or they will rot. See #6 below for which types of paperwhites do best in water or soil.
- They don't need light right now and should in fact be kept on the cool side.
- Check them daily to see if they need more water. When you see roots developing, move them to a sunny location, but not overly warm. Once they start blooming, if you move them out of direct sunlight the flowers will last longer.
- After they're done blooming you can cut off the dead flowers and stems and discard, or if you live in a warm climate (zones 7 and higher) you can plant them outside. They will come back in a year or two. Since they're tender, they can only grow outside in the South. In fact, mine are blooming outside right now! (late November).
- Regarding Paperwhite Bulbs - Zivas do best in water; Nony and Inbal in soil.
- For Amaryllis, plant one bulb per pot in with the pointed end of the bulb sticking out of the dirt.
- Plant up to its neck and firm the soil around bulb.
- Place in a warm area and water sparingly until the leaves and bud appear and then gradually water more.
- At this time growth will occur rapidly and the flowers will develop after it's reached its full height.
- You can plant at 2-week intervals for continuous bloom through the Winter.
- After the flower fades, cut it off and fertilize the plant through the summer. In early fall the leaves will begin to yellow. Cut them back, remove from the soil and store in a cool dark place for 6 to 8 weeks, after which you can pot up again.
- Alternatively, in warmer regions (zones 8 and higher) you can plant outside in the fall.