Time to plant amaryllises and paperwhites

My Google calendar reminder has popped up to tell me that it’s time to repot my amaryllises — ah, optimistic reminder, that thinks that THIS YEAR is surely the one where I took proper care of them over the winter so that I can be frugal and simply repot them now. But no. Instead, it is a reminder to me to buy some more. Maintenance = not my strong suit.

It’s time to plant your paperwhites and amaryllises, if you haven’t yet. Fifteen minutes with some rocks (or soil, if you prefer), and you’ll have flowers in December, January, February, March. Really low effort, high reward!

You can find them at big hardware stores, like Home Depot, some big grocery stores, or via mail order. I usually get my paperwhites from White Flower Farm, because I like the Ziva a little better than the ones I find at a hardware store — they tend to give double-blooms on strong stems, and don’t get quite as leggy and floppy. (I’m told you can also add some alcohol to the water to keep paper white stems shorter, but I haven’t tried that.)

I succession plant my paperwhites, planting a few more (usually in odd-number clumps, three or five, for a more natural look) every two weeks, so I have blooms all winter. (They do have a strong scent, which I like, but not everyone does.) Since they come in a bag of 24, I often give a few bulbs to friends — lovely gift. Paperwhites don’t generally re-bloom. I absolutely adore the tall green shoots and delicate white flowers; a note of freshness in the midst of a long winter. And they mix beautifully with traditional Christmas festive decor, especially when held upright with bright copper stakes.

I also do both South African amaryllis (which blooms in December-January), and Dutch amaryllis (which blooms in February-March). In theory, you can get them to re-bloom year after year if you plant them in soil and follow the right process. They usually will need staking too. Glorious on a holiday table; they also make a great gift.

Pictured: Ziva bulbs as they arrive, amaryllis bulb potted in pebbles (winding white roots will be visible; pot in soil in an opaque pot if you’d prefer not to see those), Ziva paperwhites, paperwhites with amaryllis and somewhat straggly overwintering herbs, Candy Floss amaryllis (with candy-striped peppermint marshmallows)

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