As a rule of thumb, I love to use nature – in some form – in decorating throughout my home. And the beauty in decorating with nature is that I can create a very natural ebb and flow attitude in my home, so there is always a nice natural transitioning from one season to the next. And when it’s punctuated with a holiday, like Christmas, I like to naturally pump up the volume. It’s a great way to build on what I have and create some unexpected and beautiful combinations. And when the Christmas holidays are over, I make sure that there are still elements of this festive time that keeps my home seamlessly looking fresh well into the winter months.
One of my very favorite things to decorate with – the Amaryllis. I swear by these plants and their gorgeous flowers to add color, form, and scale to pretty much any spot in my house. And the funny thing is, that many times they do not bloom on cue for Christmas, and I’m O.K. with that (something to look forward to after the holidays). Their stems and plump buds are so sculptural, and just the look of them in the process of growing adds to the naturalist vibe I love so much this time of year. There are so many varieties of Amaryllis with simple to very full blossoms, soft pastel to bold colors, and short to extremely tall stems. You can buy the bulbs at your local nursery (they are the biggest and the best), as well as your local supermarket. The largest bulbs will produce more blooms. If the bulb is sold in a box, be sure to check the bulb for firmness, and no mold.
Each year, I come up with a rough idea of the vibe I want to create for the holidays (and beyond), and stick to one or two color combinations. For instance, keeping them all white, or a combo of soft pink and cream. Creating variety in height is also ideal to give you more versatility in styling.
And even though I’m focused on prepping for Thanksgiving, I know that now is the time to buy these bulbs and to plant them up.
I choose a pot that is about an inch larger than the bulb. Amaryllis bulbs like tight quarters. Also, I make sure it has good drainage. I fill the bottom of the pot with about an inch of small stones or broken-up seashells (you know the broken shell fragments you find at the beach – but usually bypass – next time collect them for your potting drainage needs). I then fill the pot halfway with a potting mixture and place the bulb. I fill around the bulb so that the top third of the bulb will be exposed above the soil line. I water well, and place in a sunny spot. Since I always plant-up multiples, I like to group my Amaryllis pots all together on a metal tray, so it’s easier to water them at once and not worry about leakage. And on a day-to-day basis, they look more impactful as a collection of potted bulbs. As they grow, I like to keep turning them so they will grow fairly straight. It’s important to keep moist, but not wet, and not to let them dry out. Adding moss to my pots helps – and looks good. When they start to flower, I move them from the bright light to their new designated locations with indirect light.
It can take anywhere between 7-10 weeks for the bulbs to bloom (depending on the variety and conditions). And with flowering periods that can last from 6-12 weeks(!), they’re the perfect thing to take my holiday decorating way into my winter.
Enjoying blooming amaryllis in the middle of a long New England winter always makes me so happy that I did my Amaryllis homework back in November!
*Today’s posting is dedicated to the memory of my very favorite uncle, Gyula Balogh – a fellow gardener, who’s down-to-earth and positive outlook on life will forever stay with me.