Forced Bulbs In Time For Christmas

The weather's turned around here, and with the brisk cold and the grey skies, I'm almost tempted to put on Christmas music. Almost.

My mind is thinking ahead, though, to the short 7 weeks left before Christmas. I'm thinking about keeping it simple, about meaningfulness over grandeur. I'm making plans for Advent, for leaving a Christmas impression of steady and significant, rather than whirlwind and worldly upon my kids. I want to teach them to wait, to anticipate, to witness with wonder.

Which is exactly what transpires when Christmas bulbs are abloom indoors just in time for the holiday season.

If you love the beauty of paperwhites and amaryllis at Christmas time, now is the time to plant those forced bulbs. Don't delay...they take weeks to bloom! I used bulbs that already had their "winter" and come with roots already sprouting. If you are using un-winterized bulbs, you can trick them to believe it's Spring by following these instructions.

I purchase my bulbs in a $5 kit from Walmart. I bought one set of paperwhites (narcissus) and one amaryllis bulb. Both kits came with a plastic pot and soil. I'm choosing to plant them differently:

Paperwhites can be grown simply in water and pebbles. The water should only reach the root level, but in the right kind of vase, you could even grow a bulb with only water!

I used a trifle dish this year (you know, for serving desserts), and filled it with white pebbles. I had both already...can't beat free!

Place the paperwhite bulbs close together, nestled into the pebbles. You can bury the bulbs a little further under as well, as long as the tip of the bulb is above the rocks. Make sure the water is brought up to the bottom of the bulb, where the roots begin. Keep in a bright and sunny spot. As the paperwhites grow, they will look for the light and lean towards it. You'll want to turn your pot regularly if you don't want them falling over trying to get to the sunlight!

Amaryllis are a bit different in that they need to be planted in well-drained soil, and not sitting in water. Amaryllis prefer to be in a pot only 1-2" larger than the bulb itself. Because I love the look of the clear glass container, I decided to use a glass hurricane I had lying around. Since a glass hurricane doesn't have drain holes, I first added large river rocks to the bottom of the hurricane. This will help the soil drain, and not retain too much water. A similar thing is done with planting succulents, terrariums, and orchids.

Plant the amaryllis bulb most of the way into the soil, leaving the top half of the bulb exposed. (I took my photos before I realized I had planted mine a bit too deep...oops!) Amaryllis prefer well-drained soil, so don't water until soil feels dry.

And since these blooms will not come into their full glory until Christmastime, I've incorporated them into a Fall tablescape, sticking close to my love language of cream, white, and woodsy.

If you are wondering about my summertime succulent "forest" (as The Preacher calls it), they are happily hanging out together by my warm and sunny South-facing window. :)

So...hopefully you are inspired and now, confident to bring forced bulbs into your home. Beyond the beauty that will naturally adorn your home in 8 weeks time, growing bulbs brings anticipation and wonder to the Christmas season. What more could you ask for?