BRILLIANT BULBS FOR CHRISTMAS
Growing bulbs in containers to enjoy in the home at Christmas is one of the seasonal traditions that a lot of gardeners really enjoy, but it does take a little bit of planning
For bulbs to be in flower for Christmas you need to plant them in pots now – and two favourites are the Amaryllis and Paperwhite. Hippeastrum, commonly known as Amaryllis, have large flowers and are easy to grow, which makes them a popular choice for novice gardeners. They are tender plants so are best grown indoors and generally flower within six to 10 weeks of being planted. They come in a variety of colours – red, white, pink, salmon and orange – and there are many striped and multicoloured varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white.
You should grow amaryllis in a pot only slightly bigger than the bulb itself. Use multipurpose compost and plant the bulb so that about a third remains above the compost surface. Water the compost lightly and place in a warm, bright and draught-free position. As the amaryllis bulb starts to grow, keep the compost moist but don’t let it sit in water.
It’s a good idea to turn the pot regularly which will prevent the flower stem bending towards the light. As soon as the flowers start to open, move your amaryllis plant to a cooler position to prolong its flowering period.
Paperwhites are pretty, sweet-smelling, small flowered daffodils that produce an avalanche of pure white, paper thin flowers. More at home in the Mediterranean region, they have become a fragrant addition to the home in the UK.
To grow Narcissus Paperwhite make sure you buy bulbs sold for growing as pot plants indoors. Use any good multi-purpose compost or bulb fibre and plant several bulbs in each pot, packed closely together, with their tips just below the surface of the compost. Water well, but be careful not to over–water. Place in a cool place for around eight weeks, check regularly to see if the soil has dried out, before watering. At the beginning of December bring the pot into a warm position, such as a sunny windowsill, for the best flowering. When the plants grow to their full height they may need to be supported.