With Remembrance Day behind us and Halloween firmly in the past, it is time for many of us to get into the full swing of all things Christmas.
I’ve got my poinsettia going, and my baby rosemary plants are putting on new growth. Now it’s time to try something else: forcing bulbs.
I’ve never grown an amaryllis or anything like that, but this year I thought I’d try paperwhites. I’m a die hard daffodil fan, so these cousins (Narcissus papyraceus) aren’t too far outside my comfort zone.
The little gift pack I stumbled across at Walmart for five bucks actually came with a pot and a disk of compressed coir, but many people plant the bulbs in a dish of water topped up with pebbles or marbles for stability. My kit says to plant them six weeks before you want blooms; most people on the Interweb say three weeks, so I’m doing it today and we’ll see.
I decided to ditch the coir and pot that came with the kit and do something prettier.
I put a shallow layer of stones in this (plastic-lined) dish, placed the bulbs, then covered them up to their "shoulders" in more stones and added just enough water to keep their bottoms wet.
I did find an intriguing tip for keeping blooming paperwhites from getting top-heavy –get them ever so slightly drunk. But as to why paperwhites are thought of as a Christmas flower, I couldn’t find any clues other than they bloom in December in warm climates. There doesn’t seem to be any special symbolism.
Poinsettias symbolized purity to the ancient Aztecs, and there’s the usual holly and ivy to represent eternity and resurrection. Evergreen trees fall into the same category. But amaryllis? Christmas Rose (Serissa or Helleborus, depending on who you ask)? Christmas cactus? We just seem to be looking for something alive and lovely in the dark winter months.
Fair enough. We were pretty excited when Chris got a zygocactus (Schlumbergera) blooming again.
Rosemary babies in the background!
At least, he’s the one who rescued the poor little guy. It was languishing in a corner after being relocated during the ever-present renovations, and he moved it to his studio where it gets bright, indirect light. He’s taking full credit for the transformation; I think he accidentally did exactly what it needed.
But I’m not complaining. It’s pretty exciting to have so many things growing when there’s carols on the radio and four inches of snow.