Easy Blossoms in the Cold of Winter

Winter’s Cold needs cheer, what better way than to encourage a few bulbs? The hardest part is remembering to start early enough for timely bloom.

Benfica Amaryllis is now fully open with 4 blooms.
The weight of the blooms make it top-heavy so
stakes and some raffia hold it up. An errant bird’s nest fern
threatens to take it over.
Hyacinths will bloom between now and Valentine’s Day because I was tardy putting them in to chill. Amaryllis blooms without chill after bulbs rest. Purchased bulbs are ready to pot. Hyacinths on the other hand need about 10 weeks of chill to trigger bloom. I chill dry bulbs; they may be potted and then chilled if you’ve room in a refrigerator where no apples are stored.
I had begun to despair of hyacinths ever blooming. On Christmas Day I noticed tiny green tips on some of the hyacinth bulbs. I knew in my heart that they were fine; the bulbs were firm but after almost a month I was starting to worry.
Meantime, Amaryllis ‘Nymph’ has a fat bud to keep us enthralled until well into the New Year.
In the Coastal South, we are assured of Camellias outside throughout winter except during a hard freeze. Tight buds quickly open when the weather warms after a freeze. If I lived in a colder climate, I would plant even more bulbs in pots for winter bloom. My forays with tulips have had mixed results including the year the puppy ate my tulips just as they put on buds.
The advantage to planting hyacinths in pots of soil rather than forcing in water is that well rooted bulbs can be slipped out of pots after bloom and planted in the ground outside. In a colder zone, they may be kept in pots until the ground thaws. They’ll bloom again the following year. I’ve had good success with water-forced bulbs returning but the second year’s bloom is usually small. With feeding they will recover; no need to toss a good bulb.
Amaryllis are trickier to bring into a second year’s bloom. There are detailed instructions on the net for doing so. I’m working toward seeing a second bloom in a pot. I’ve had second spring rebloom when I planted bulbs in the ground. Hopeful of rebloom in a pot, I’ve tried, maybe not yet hard enough. The foliage is healthy, just no bloom yet.
There are a half-dozen new plants from seed from 2010 as well. I’m hopeful of bloom from them in a couple of years. So far my first-year plants have bulbs about the size of the end of my thumb. I look forward to ‘next year’ and the next.

1 Comment

  1. Really like the color of that amaryllis, and have had years of great luck forcing hyacinths indoors with minimal chilling.

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