Now that the Christmas decorations have come down our homes can seem a little bare, and one of the best ways to brighten them up is to grow an amaryllis.
These large bulbs are often given as Christmas presents. If yours is still languishing in its box, then now is the time to get it out and start it into growth.
Growing these glamorous flowers is not difficult and it’s fun to watch their super-charged growth rate.
Start by placing the bulb in a pot with its top third above compost level. Place in bright, indirect light and water sparingly until the shoot is about 8cm in height. At that point start watering regularly and keep turning the pot so the flower stalk grows straight.
You may want to stake it in order to prevent that huge flower from toppling over.From planting to flowering, amaryllis can take just six to eight weeks, and if you grow several of them and group them together, then you could have different heights and colours all blooming at the same time.
If you prefer your bulbs less showy, then find a patch of snowdrops, pot them up and bring them indoors where they will soon start to flower and you can do the same with crocus and small narcissi as they start to appear.
Forcing bulbs is a way of making it appear like spring has arrived early. Once these outdoor bulbs have finished performing give them a little dilute feed and wait for the leaves to die down before replanting them in the garden.
You might also want to try it with primroses, which look good growing in a basket of moss. Some primroses are already in flower in sheltered spots so they aren’t hard to find.
Otherwise, pick a few stems of winter-flowering shrubs, such as viburnum, Christmas box or winter honeysuckle and once indoors they’ll give a sweet perfume that will permeate the house.
Meanwhile, forced hyacinths should be kept damp once the flowers go over. Place them somewhere cool until the leaves have died off then find a spot for them outdoors.
It may take a season or two for them to build up again but eventually they will re-flower.
What’s in bloom?
Rhododendron Christmas Cheer is one of the earliest of all rhododendrons to flower. Grow it in a pot and bring it into the greenhouse and it will perform even earlier, but even outdoors it should be coming into flower just about now.
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