It's a cold and gloomy Friday here in my corner of the world. It's sort of trying to snow. The sun is nowhere to be seen. It's gray out there. And bleak. And I have a bit of a cold. Ugh.
This . . . is exactly the time I need amaryllis blooms to brighten my day.
This bloom is just stunning. But it doesn't really photograph all that well. It's a bulb called 'Grand Diva' from White Flower Farm -- and it truly is grand! It's not really red, but it's not quite burgundy, either. It looks a lot like velvet, and it has lovely, tonal highlights.
The flowers are huge! There are currently four blooms on the first stem, and the bud on the second stem is just beginning to open.
On the other end of the bloom-spectrum, this one ('Tres Chic,' also from White Flower Farm) is winding down. But if you look closely, you can see the bud on the second stem just beginning to open up. (This is the bulb that started rotting. I seemed to have halted the rot, but that second stem never really got any taller. I definitely stressed this one.)
This one, 'Rosy Star' from White Flower Farm, is just opening. Both buds at the same time. I can't wait to see this one. I love white amaryllis -- and this one is supposed to have a pinkish cast. Anticipation!
And then . . . there is my ver-r-r-ry slow amaryllis. This one is definitely taking it's time! By process of elimination, I know that this one is called 'Stardust' (White Flower Farm) -- and it is the one I'm most excited to see. But. I'll need to continue being patient. Because it's going to be awhile yet.
Some years I pick up amaryllis bulbs at local nurseries; some years I pick up "kits" at Target; some years I go the grocery-store-rescue route; and some years I order bulbs from White Flower Farm. They are ALL wonderful options when it comes to having beautiful blooms in the house! But. I've gotta say . . . those bulbs from White Flower Farm? They are worth every penny! The bulbs are big and healthy. The blooms are gigantic. The stems are more sturdy and don't flop over so easily. And the colors on the blooms are just amazing. (Plus -- you get to pick which varieties you want. Which is always the hardest part for me - but most fun, too.)
And, because I made such an investment this year (bulbs from WFF run between $18 and $25 per plain bulb), I'm thinking I might want to "rebuild" my bulbs -- and try to get them to bloom again next year.
Interested in preserving your own bulbs for next year? Here are the "rebuilding" steps from White Flower Farm:
- After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5" above the bulb.
- DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF. They produce food that will be stored in the bulb -- and the bulb needs them!
- Put the plant in a sunny window where it will receive 6-8 hours of direct sun each day. (South-facing is best, but I don't have any south-facing windows, so I go with an east-facing window. It seems to work.)
- Water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month. (The fertilizer is rather important. Those poor bulbs are exhausted after producing those flowers!)
- In the spring - once the danger of frost has passed - set the pot outdoors in full sun OR knock the bulbs out of the pots and plant them right in the ground in a sunny location. Continue to provide fertilizer.
- In the fall, bring the bulb indoors (WFF recommends waiting until the frost blackens the leaves), cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store in a cool (55 degrees F), dark place (basement) for 8-10 weeks. Don't water. Don't feed.
- Then, re-pot the bulb and water it. Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges. (And keep your fingers crossed!)
I'm going to try it this year! I need some indoor gardening chores to get me through these dark days of winter.
I also picked up another blooming bulb at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago:
Here's some "gardener advice" if you see these in the grocery store and are tempted to grab a pot for yourself: Unless it's a gift for someone and you need blooming RIGHT NOW, be particular about your bulb purchase. Pick the pot with barely-just-emerging buds. Kind of like this . . .
That's the same pot of hyacinth, two weeks earlier. By choosing the most just-emerging pot I could find, I have had the joy of watching the buds emerge -- and I'll get to enjoy the blooms longer, too!
Happy Friday, everyone!