Growing Amaryllises for Christmas

“I Want a Hippopotamus” adapted by Ashley Jager

There was no Christmas tree in our apartment this year but that doesn’t mean that we lacked greenery or joyful decoration. Our love of plants flourished on the porch garden with select species transitioning inside as the weather turned. The dragonfruit cactus outgrew several sized pots and our bonsai ficus, acquired circa 2019, received new soil with a root pruning this summer. It was nice to tend to the jade plant and small succulents ornamenting the windowsills while the wintery winds howled on the other side of the glass. We even put together a puzzle container to house a small succulent flower this year.

It seemed like we had a lovely enough collection of plant life to satisfy the senses when we were gifted from Derek’s father an amaryllis bulb shipped from the Netherlands to grow just in time for the holidays. Planted in mid-November in a small container approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb, we documented the experience in eager anticipation. To add to the amaryllis experiment, Derek picked up a kit from Home Depot to grow alongside the Holland bulb. It came with a soil disc that expanded with water and its own bright red pail. After centering the bulb in the soil, we left the neck and shoulders of the top 2 inches of the bulbs exposed, per Cal’s instructions.

In roughly a week, Derek’s bulb began to show some height with the Holland bulb slowly inching upward at a much slower rate. Each day it seemed like the race to the top was getting closer with the first bloom soon to come. In Greek, the amaryllis (amarysso) means “to sparkle.” The amaryllis is a tropical flower that when grown as a houseplant in late fall has become synonymous with the Christmas season since they bloom in just 4-6 weeks. Native to the African continent, amaryllis bulbs were brought to Europe in the 1700s and have been known to bloom perennially for up to 75 years.

By December 16th, one week before Christmas, Derek’s amaryllis bloomed seemingly out of nowhere with a bright red flower. Over the next several days, it bloomed a second red flower with the “dancing queen” flower from Holland catching up with its own bright white starburst in flashes of pink and red.

The joyful trumpet-shaped flowers seem to burst with life in the Christmas season with distinctive color variations of red and white. With more flower stalks inching upward, these blooms will continue to flourish over the holidays. It was a beautiful surprise to see the flowers continue to grow and change each day. May your Christmas season be as joyful and triumphant as a pair of sparkling Amaryllises!

Merry Christmas!

-Derek, Ashley, & Sprout ᓚᘏᗢ

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