Time for Indoor Bulbs!

Already it is the week of Thanksgiving which means it is time for turkey, dressing, cranberry salad and...

Indoor Bulbs!

Thanksgiving week is when I traditionally pot up Amaryllis and Narcissus (paperwhites) bulbs for holiday blooming.

I'll admit that for the most part, I've treated these indoor bulbs as "disposable". I usually bought cheap bulbs at the store, planted them up, watched them bloom and then half-heartedly watered them until mid-summer when I finally tossed them out.

Now, before everyone gets all "What, you toss out perfectly good growing plants" on me, please remember that for several years, yes, years, I have been battling an awful, horrible mealybug infestation in my house. By spring, the amaryllis in particular always ended up with mealybugs stuck down in between the leaves, and it was nearly impossible to get rid of them without tossing out the plant. (It’s still a little bit embarrassing to write about it.)

But this year is going to be different! I believe I've finally gotten rid of the mealybugs. I think I’ll actually be able to keep the Amaryllis bulbs for more than one year.

That made it easy to succumb to the "gentle pressure" applied by Elizabeth of Gardening While Intoxicated to get some better bulbs for my indoor garden. She had been posting about bulbs and plurking about bulbs with messages like "Brent & Becky's Bulbs still have Narcissus - Grand Soleil d'Or, Carol”.

(Okay, she might not have posted/plurked my actual name, but I always felt as though she was talking directly to me. Sometimes on Plurk, she actually was.)

So I finally checked, and by golly, they did still have those Narcissus. And while looking around on their site, I found a couple of Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) I thought were pretty, '(Blossom Peacock' and 'Green Goddess’), and some Oxalis regnellii var. triangularis that looked nice, so I ordered them, too.

Click, click, click, it is so easy to order online!

Less than a week later, I had my bulbs. Thanks, Elizabeth!

Then I realized I really need THREE Amaryllis bulbs because I have three matching pots for Amaryllis and besides, everyone knows you should buy plants in odd numbers. So for that third Amaryllis, I thought I'd be real smart and frugal and just get another bulb at the big box store.

Can you guess which one of the bulbs above is from the big box store?

Correct, it is the one on the right. It's smaller, scarred, smaller. In a word, “disappointing”, at least compared to the other two bulbs. But I’ve got it, so I’ll plant it, and we’ll see how it grows and blooms compared to the other two… and find out if bigger is really better in the bulb world.

Is anyone else potting up Amaryllis or Narcissus this week?


  1. I think I posted about the difference between big box tazettas (paperwhites) and mail order ones. A huge difference! Now I really know what they mean by topsize bulbs.

    Carol I will be interested in seeing how you pot the narcissus. With stones, I imagine?

    I hope my enabling has good results!

  2. We always have such trouble with gnats (or fruit flies or whatever the heck they are) in the indoor bulbs that I've all but given up on them. And I no longer have a mantle to put them on (sigh). But I do love a beautiful amaryllis. Hmmmm.... Maybe I should try again.

    Oh, hoooooney.... I need more plaaaaants..... (he doesn't distinguish...)

    ~Angela :-)

  3. Good for you to be potting up your indoor bulbs! I'm way behind in everything thanks to my surgery, but did get a daffodil and pansy bed put in by my driveway recently. It is always a treat to visit your lovely and interesting blog. I hope y'all have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  4. I potted up my amaryllis the other day. My husband went to Lowe's for some lumber and came back with a "Red Lion" bulb for me. I was actually pretty surprised--it was a very nice sized bulb.

    I can't wait for it to start blooming now!

    I need to get some narcissus, too...

  5. Yes, I've potted up a couple of indoor bulbs the past week. One apple blossom amaryllis and some paper whites. I went the easy route, and used the big box store kits. I'm lazy, I know! But I've never forced indoor bulbs before, so I wanted to start off easy.

  6. Carol, I usually pot up my amaryllis closer to Christmas so that there are blooms to decorate the house after all the decorations are taken down and things look a tad bare.
    I've used the big box stores' amaryllis for years, and while the bulbs are not as big as the ones from Brent and Becky's, they do produce lovely, big flowers and sometimes two stalks. I am able to plant them in the garden in the spring where they grow larger and flower wonderfully. Good luck with yours.

    Always Growing

  7. Perfect timing, Carol! I have some leftover bulbs that I didn't get planted and thought I would try forcing them indoors. Thanks for the tip to start them now for the holidays.

  8. Have you tried the technique of reducing the height of paperwhites (without reducing the flowers) so they won't flop so much by using an alcohol solution (isopropyl or liquor) instead of water?

    Here's a paper by one of our faculty here in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University describing how to do it:


  9. Carol: A timely reminder to me to re-pot the amaryllis bulbs. I have not done tazettas or hyacinths indoors...space is an issue with all the plants overwintering here!

  10. I love Brent & Becky's bulbs. They are actually not too far from where I live. I plan on taking a tour of their display gardens next spring when the bulbs & perennials are in full glory. Great inspiration for the home garden! Good luck with your indoor forcing, look forward to seeing the blooms.

  11. Yes, and this time they're from the box store. I'm sorry.~~Dee

  12. Thank you for the reminder to re-pot my amaryllis. I have a beautiful salmon colored one called Mary Jane that I bought last year. I hope it will rebloom, this is my first attempt at saving one.

  13. Inspired by your post, I just potted up both Chico and Papilio Amaryllis. Rembrandt Van Rijn will remain in his mesh bag until I see the stalk emerge or mid-December, whichever comes first. Of the four others I've planted, La Paz, Red Pearl and Melusine are all growing quite happily. Moonlight has stubbornly refused to break dormancy yet.

  14. That's a dramatic difference between those bulbs. You could do testimonials for Brent & Becky's. I've forced Narcissus and Tazettas, but this year I'm forcing only Tulips, which are already potted up & sitting in a cabinet in the garage.

  15. my report is found at http://penngardener.blogspot.com.
    Brent and Becky are great.
    I love coming to see what you're thinking about!

  16. Can I plant paperwhites in the garden after forcing indoors? How and when? Thanks!

  17. My amaryllis never seem to bloom until March, right about the time of the snowdrops, so I gave up on them.

  18. I've had good and bad from the big box stores. I usually open the box and look at the bulb. Sometimes I have to go through quite a number of boxes before I find a bulb that suits me (or that hasn't tried to bloom in the box - ugh).

    As you probably know, I keep my bulbs and have, for the last few years, ever since I started growing them. I let the bulb tell me when it's ready to start growing again, once I've taken them out of the ground in the fall and they've rested for a couple of months. Once I see leaves or bloom buds peeking out of the top of where I've cut them, then I know it's ready to go.

    Right now, I've got eight different amaryllis bulbs potted up and should see some blooms in the next couple of weeks, maybe sooner!

    I really think Amaryllis are my very favorite flower of all time.


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