Bulbs in Time For the Holidays

Darin Engh from Engh Gardens shares some ideas of how to grow and use bulbs.

Flowers are the heart of any holiday celebration. In winter they offer a rich palette of sophisticated color and texture for your holiday home. Surround a stately amaryllis bulb with moss or ivy as a centerpiece of your dinner table. Create an ephemeral mantel display with paperwhites grown in crystal clear cylinders. Whether you purchase holiday flowers in bloom or start them from scratch, beauty is guaranteed.


For months of blooms, plants bulbs such as paperwhites or amaryllis, in pots every few weeks from mid-October to late November. Always choose the largest bulbs available, as they’ll produce the most flowers. Look for bulbs that are plump and avoid soft, shriveled or moldy ones.


Paperwhites may be planted in either soil or stones. Place the bulbs about one inch apart and cover two-thirds of the bulb with stones or completely with soil. Water and place them in a light, cool place until the foliage stands three to four inches high. Then, place them in a sunny location at room temperature and keep them well watered. They will bloom in four to six weeks from September to February!


Amaryllis may be planted indoors from October through March and should bloom within six to twelve weeks. With one bulb per six inch pot (a pot about 1 inch in diameter larger than the bulb), amaryllis should be planted in sterile potting soil in a pot with a drainage hole. The soil should cover three-quarters of the bulb, with one-quarter of the bulb and the whole stalk exposed above the soil. Press the soil firmly around the bulb to prevent the plant from toppling over when in bloom. Water lightly and place in direct sunlight at room temperature. To help your amaryllis pop out of dormancy more quickly, you may give the pots a bit of heat. As the bud begins to flower, gradually increase the amount of water. You will likely be rewarded with multiple stalks of huge flowers! To hold amaryllis from year to year, “dead head” the flowers after they have bloomed. Allow the stalks to die back naturally and permit the foliage to continue growing. Stop watering the plant in mid-July. In mid-October, cut back the dead foliage and give the plant a drink to begin the process again.

For more information, you can contact Darin at Engh Gardens in Sandy or online at www.enghgardens.com.

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