Once the holidays pass and the new year begins, what do you want to see and smell around your home? We say fresh, fragrant flowers! Amaryllis and paperwhites are some of the easiest bulbs to grow.
Amaryllis and paperwhites have similarities due to the concept of forcing bulbs to flower in the winter. They can be pretty easy to care for and make for an excellent project for beginners. Amaryllis have large, vibrant flowers, while paperwhites can pack a fragrant punch with their small blooms. We are sharing some tips on how to get started and care for these beautiful bulbs.
When to Plant Amaryllis and Paperwhites
Amaryllis | Six to eight weeks before you’d like to see blooms. Some varieties will bloom faster than others. They can be planted as early as mid-October through mid-February. Paperwhites | These will bloom faster than amaryllis. Four to six weeks will be sufficient timing and anytime October through February should work as well.
How to Plant Amaryllis and Paperwhites
This is the fun part! Both can grow with or without soil. If you do prefer soil, choose a heavy pot due to the height and weight of the plant. It avoids the pot tipping over once it’s in bloom. Pack in potting soil loosely and place the bulb with the pointy tip up. Leave about one-third of the bulb exposed. Many folks love a moss cover on the top as well. If you like the idea of leaving the roots and bulb exposed, then try placing pebbles or stones in the bottom of a clear vase. Add only enough water to touch the roots, otherwise, the bulb will rot. In this scenario, you will have to keep an eye on the water level and add to it if the water is below the roots. It’s as simple as that!
Where to Plant Amaryllis and Paperwhites
Bright, indirect light is best. To prolong blooms, avoid direct sunlight. Consider rotating the pot so that the stems are not reaching in one direction for light. Paperwhites don’t mind it a bit cooler at 65 degrees. A cool windowsill can be the perfect location.
Long-Term Care for Amaryllis and Paperwhites
Amaryllis | Similar to daffodils, you’ll want to trim the stalk down to about 1-2” after blooming. Keep the leaves intact! This is an important step as the leaves will still receive light and store nutrients in the bulb for the next season. Once they start to yellow, it’s safe to remove the leaves. Continue to water and use a liquid houseplant fertilizer. In August, allow the plant to dry out and die back naturally (if any new leaves have grown in spring or summer). Then store the bulb in a cool, dark place for a minimum of 8 weeks. Once this has occurred, you can re-start the process of forcing the bulb all over again. Paperwhites | Many choose not to hold onto these for indoor use as it will take another two years or more for them to bloom again. Toss them in the compost! Also, paperwhites are known to grow pretty quickly. Use stakes and twine to keep them upright if they start to topple over.
Bonus Tip for Paperwhites
This tip is on my to-do list this year. Add a 5% concentration of alcohol to shorten the stem height of paperwhites. It avoids a floppy stem and can shorten them by up to one-third in height. Since most clear liquors are 40% alcohol, this comes out to about 1-part alcohol to 7 parts water. Start this process once the stem has started to grow (after there are leaves) to stunt the growth. Perhaps, I’ll try giving my plants a stiff, holiday drink preferably, with Tito’s. Welcome the winter blooms instead of the winter blues. Bring spring to life a little bit early! Share with a friend who is looking for a fun, new project to cheer up their home in the new year.