Gardening Magazine

Amaryllis for Christmas Presents

By Plantedd @Plantedd

Is it too soon to be thinking of Christmas?  The first flickering red of the autumn leaves has only started to catch.  There are plenty of late summer flowers that are still out in full force.  If anything, now is a good time to just enjoy the garden in its moment because there isn’t going to be much more growth above ground before the frosts hit, so we can all stop preening over the plants in the border.  Sit back and relax.

It’s difficult not to plan ahead though.  Some of us will want to start thinking about which sweet pea seeds to get for autumn sowing in early November,  or what shrubs and trees to get planted while the soil is still warm.

One of my own wee traditions at this time of year is to get some amaryllis bulbs started.  I’ll give some of them away as Christmas presents and I’ll keep some for myself to enjoy the flowers over the winter.

Amaryllis 'Dancing Queen'

Amaryllis ‘Dancing Queen’.  Photograph: Sycamore Trading

An amaryllis was one of the very first things that I ever grew, a couple of years before I was eventually let loose outdoors on the family garden.  I spent my pocket money on one big bulb of the traditional red amaryllis and looked on as the flower stalk emerged and climbed and climbed. When it eventually flowered, I thought I was a miracle worker. I guess I had reasoned that something this dramatic and showy had to be tricky to grow.  Nowadays, the sense of wonder is still there but I know now that amaryllis are actually quite easy and they put on a big display more because that’s what they’re programmed to do – and less because I have magic green fingers.

Kew Gardens have a detailed guide on how to grow them. The main things for me are to:

Soak the roots overnight when you first get the bulbs, but without getting the base of the bulb itself wet. You’ll probably want to suspend it in a cup or a jar.

Leave anywhere between a third to two-thirds of the bulb poking out of the compost when you pot it up.  They don’t need big containers.  If you’ve got enough space to fit your fingers right around the edge of the bulb then that’s fine.

A quick point to keep the botanists and the more pedantic gardeners happy – these are technically called hippeastrums, and not amaryllis. But now that that’s out of the way, I’ll just keep calling them amaryllis because that’s what I know them as and it’s what you know them as.

On the Plantedd marketplace, Sycamore Trading have 6 varieties of amaryllis for sale.  They’re not cheap.  Each bulb costs £17.25. (There’s free delivery, as with all of Sycamore Trading’s items, but it might still seem like a lot for one bulb – there’s good reason though.)

Here’s why they they’re £17.25.  Each bulb is the size of a cantaloupe melon! They’re huge. The average amaryllis bulb is only the size of an orange. These big top-sized bulbs are 42/44cm in circumference, whereas most of those sold in the shops are 26/28cm.

It’s fairly common to get 3 flower stalks from bulbs these big, so it’ll be an impressive show. The hard part is deciding whether to treat yourself or your friends and family. (Or both, I suppose!)

Amaryllis 'Magic Green'

Amaryllis ‘Magic Green’.  Photograph: Sycamore Trading

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