I love decorating my home for Christmas. I look forward to it for weeks ahead of time and can hardly wait until the day after Thanksgiving when I haul out all the boxes and the kids and I get to work.
For a whole month, everything looks magical and special.
Then, January rolls around and all the special things are replaced with the ordinary once again. It puts me in a bit of a funk every year.
That’s where this Simply Homemade gift comes in. This present will wake up and bloom just as the holidays are winding down and the cold, dreary days of January set in.
It’s an amaryllis.
Amaryllises rival poinsettias for the most popular live Christmas plants. People love to use them as centerpieces or accent plants during the holidays because a bulb planted in November will bloom just in time for Christmas.
We’re a little late for getting our amaryllis to bloom by Christmas, but that’s what makes it a perfect gift. It will bloom just when something fresh and pretty is most appreciated, after the tree comes down. I even wrote a little poem to give along with the gift.
You can add the poem to your gift if you’d like, or come up with something of your own!
I love the idea of gifting a little bit of spring to a loved a one for Christmas, and giving an amaryllis couldn’t be easier.
How to Grow (and give) an Amaryllis
The first thing to do is to purchase an amaryllis bulb. These are sold online (Google Amaryllis bulbs and you’ll have a zillion options) or in just about any store that sells garden items. They are inexpensive too. The bulbs I purchased from the Army Exchange were about $2.50 each.
Amaryllis bulbs come in a variety of colors, from the traditional Christmas red to white to pale pink. You can even find candy cane amaryllis! The ones below are sold on Amazon (click on the photo if you want the link).
Choosing the bulb to plant is probably the hardest part of this whole project! The rest is just as easy as playing in the dirt.
1) After you’ve chosen your bulb, pick a pot that is not much bigger than the bulb itself. Aim to have about 1 inch of dirt around the bulb.
I found a great pot on clearance at Target. As you can see from the photo, it’s too big for a single bulb, so I planted three. Amaryllis bulbs like to be cozy, and they bloom better in tight quarters.
2) It’s important to provide good drainage so the bulb doesn’t rot. I put an inch of sand in the bottom of the pot to help with that, and mixed some sand in with my potting soil.
3) Pack the bulb firmly in soil, leaving the top 1/3 of the bulb exposed.
4) Water well. This is the only time you’ll water it until the shoot starts to show, or in 3 weeks, whichever comes first. How easy is that?
For decorative purposes, I covered the exposed dirt with Spanish moss and added a little tag to remind myself when to water next since I’m still responsible for this plant until I give it away.
At this point, the bulb does not need light, but it does need warmth to sprout. Keep it in a room above 60 degrees and the bulb will start to shoot up in 2-3 weeks (some varieties may take longer, so be sure to note the grow times on the package). If you’re in a hurry, you can put the pot on a heating pad on low and it will bloom even faster!
Once the bulb starts to grow, keep it in a sunny window, rotating every day or so to keep the stalks from bending toward the light. It’s also important to stake the stalk to keep it from breaking as the flowers develop.
Water when the top inch of soil is dry. Most people tend to over-water plants, so don’t baby it too much!
If you like, you can give a picture of the bloom with the gift, or just let the flower color be a surprise. If you are traveling with your gift, you might want to wrap it in cellophane to keep all the dirt where it belongs. I simply tied a bow around the pot, added the poem, and this very simple homemade gift is ready to give!
Variations: Amaryllis isn’t the only bulb that’s easy to force into bloom. Most bulbs will bloom indoors, but some require chill time before they’ll sprout. Paperwhites, however, can be grown just like amaryllis. They look like dainty, white daffodils and are very fragrant. Try planting some every few weeks in different pots for continuous indoor blooms!
Amaryllis can be grown in water. Fill a glass container with several inches of pretty rocks, marbles, or decorative glass beads. Fill with water to the top of the rocks and place the bulb on the rocks. Be sure the water only touches the very bottom of the bulb or it will rot. It will send down roots into the water and bloom just like it would if it was planted in dirt.
Amaryllis bulbs can be planted outdoors once they are done blooming inside. You can even save the bulb and replant it inside next Christmas! The instructions are easy to find online. Simply Google “Plant an Amaryllis” and you’ll get all the help you need.
Tomorrow’s gift includes tiny lights and carrot noses.