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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Pretty and pleasurable holiday plants that are easy to grow

Nov 30, 2022 12:12PM ● By Lori Rose

A friend gave me a plant for the holidays. She didn’t know what kind of plant it was, but she promised it would make beautiful flowers. 

One dreary day in February, the first bud opened. I was thrilled! That flower looked like an orange tiger lily with a white throat. It was one of the prettiest things I had ever seen!

I searched through spring bulb catalogs for the name for the plant until I eventually found my February friend in all its glory! 


It was an Amaryllis (hippeastrum), the Dutch bulb sold during the holiday season. My particular variety, iridescent orange with a white center, is called charmeur.

The red and white Amaryllis you see sold in boxes are just the beginning of the colors and sizes that will surprise and delight you.

Try one (or more) of these lovely Amaryllis varieties: red lion (vivid scarlet color), Christmas gift (pure white); apple blossom (pink blending to white); clown (red and white peppermint-candy striped).

Pot up amaryllis bulbs any time during the winter months. Soak the roots for an hour before potting. Use a pot with good drainage that is 3 inches wider than the bulb. Put down a few inches of soil and place the bulb in the center of the pot. Add soil until two-thirds of the bulb is covered. Keep the soil 1 inch below the pot rim and water thoroughly.

Put your new amaryllis in a warm, sunny room. Water it when the soil is dry, making sure it’s moist but not soggy.

When it finishes flowering, treat it as you would any other houseplant and cut the stalk back as low as you can without disturbing the leaves.

Here’s the secret for getting your amaryllis to bloom again: stop watering the plant in August. The leaves will turn yellow and die. Gently cut off the dead leaves, and then start watering your bulb again in November.


 For many families, growing cheerful paperwhites is a winter tradition. But while the amaryllis can live on to bloom again, paperwhites do not. They will spend all their energy flowering indoors. 

It takes about six weeks from planting for paperwhites to bloom. They are so easy to grow that they don’t even need potting soil—just a bowl of pebbles and water. It’s a fun project for grandkids, and they make great gifts.

Choose a fun container for your paperwhites. Any watertight container that is 4 or 5 inches deep, and wide enough to hold bulbs side by side will work. 

Use your imagination. Consider clean river rocks or a variety of stones, marbles or glass beads to anchor the bulbs in the bowl and hold them steady once growth begins. Place a layer of these several inches deep into the container.

Fit as many bulbs as you can onto the stone layer. Pack them in firmly with the pointy-ends up. The more bulbs, the better—they will hold one another up and reward you with loads of flowers. 

Hand-place a second layer of stones around and in between the bulbs. Leave the bulb shoulders (where the tops narrow) and necks exposed. Add enough water so it rises close enough so the bulb can “sniff” the water but not touch it. 

If you choose a clear container, you can watch the roots grow. Set the planted bulbs in a cool, bright spot. The brighter the light, the less “leggy” the plants will be. You can secure a leggy narcissus by tying ribbon or raffia around the whole bunch, two thirds of the way up the stems.

Try these two unique paperwhite varieties: Chinese Sacred Lily (yellow and white with citrus fragrance) or Soleil d’Or (pure yellow).

Both amaryllis and paperwhites are so easy to grow that it’s almost shameful to get these spectacular flowers with so little effort.

Winter is a season when we historically get sick and fatigued, and are starved for color. During those cold, dark days, fresh indoor flowers keep our spirits believing that spring will indeed come again. 

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