Growing bulbs indoors lets you enjoy the color and fragrance of spring when it’s still months away. Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis and paperwhites are the easiest with no required precooling to be forced. The Amaryllis originated in South America’s tropical regions and the botanical name is Hippeastrum. The amaryllis comes in many beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white ,pink, salmon and orange. There are also many striped and multicolored varieties. Paperwhites comes in two kinds; Ziva – their large clusters of pure white flowers arch above graceful blue-green foliage and their perfume fills the room with fragrance. Grand Soleil d’or has lemon to gold petals surrounding bright yellow-orange cups. While there may be fewer blooms than some of the white varieties the rich, fruity fragrance and cheery colors more than makes up for it.
Paperwhites will grow happily and bloom with potting mix or nothing more than water and stones or beach glass. To plant in soilless kits begin by carefully placing a layer of stones or glass to a depth of about 2 inches in a small vase or about 4 inches in a larger vase. Next place a layer of paperwhite bulbs close to each other, roots facing down put a few stones around between the bulbs to anchor them in the vase. Leave the tops of the bulbs exposed, and add water until the level reaches just below the base of the bulbs (if the bases of the bulbs sit in the water, they will rot). When paperwhites are forced to bloom they have a tendency to topple when in flower so hold them upright with a bulb support ( bamboo stakes and twine ). After paperwhites finish blooming, throw the bulbs out or toss them on the compost pile. They won’t bloom again, if you don’t want to start your paperwhites right away store, them at room temperature in a dark place.
Amaryllis is a little different, when preparation for planting put the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. Remember if you cannot plant the bulb immediately, store them at a cool temperature between 40-50 degree F. Plant bulbs in nutritious potting compost. Many are available pre-mixed. Plant the bulb up to the neck in the potting compost, being careful not to damage the roots. Place the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for development of the stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees F. Water sparingly until the stem appears, then as the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. The bulb will flower in 7-10 weeks as a general rule, so set up your planting schedule between October and April with this in mind; to achieve continuous bloom, plant at intervals of 2 weeks for stunning color in your home and garden.
After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again. Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb. Continue to water and fertilize as normal all summer, or for at least 5-6 months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in the early fall, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove from soil. Clean the bulb and place it in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place such as the crisper of the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 weeks. Do not put your bulbs in the refrigerator that contains apples, this will sterilize the bulb. Store the bulbs for a minimum of 6 weeks. After 6 weeks you may remove bulbs whenever you would like to plant them. Plant bulbs 8 weeks before you would like them to bloom and enjoy.
-Provided by Oakland Columbus