EVERYTHING Christmas is now 40% off. This includes greens, wreaths, swags, roping, greens containers, ornaments, hostess gifts, lanterns, candles, and much more. Hurry in for best selection! We are open every day through December 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. If you have yet to hang your roping, green up your urns. put a wreath on your front door and decorate your tree, you still have time to create a holiday home. And now you can save money!
Everything Christmas, including fresh greens, roping, swags, wreaths, greens containers, branches, berries, pine cones, sticks, ornaments, ribbon, bows, artificial greens and holiday gifts are all 20% off.
Hurry in for the best selection. The sale continues through next Thursday, December 17. We are open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fill your home with the sweet fragrance of paperwhites this winter. Inexpensive and easy to grow, they take about four weeks to force into bloom. Planting several bulbs every two to four weeks will ensure a continual supply of their flowers and perfume.
Paperwhites can be planted in soil, pebbles or decorative stones, or water alone. Choose any pot – paperwhites aren’t fussy – and fill with well-drained potting soil. Plant the bulbs so that their ‘necks’ are peeking out of the soil, and water thoroughly. Continue to water to keep the soil slightly moist.
Paperwhites can also be planted in pebbles or decorative stones. Begin by putting a two-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom of the container. Mason jars and clear vases work nicely. Place the bulbs on top and then cover them with more pebbles until just the tips of bulbs are exposed. Add water until it barely reaches the base of bulbs. Maintain this water level as foliage and flowers grow.
Whether planted in soil or pebbles, bulbs can be planted very close together. They look even more beautiful in groups and it may reduce foliage flop. Set newly-planted pots in a cool location for several days to encourage root growth. Then move them to a bright, sunny spot to boost foliage and flowers.
To force paperwhites in water alone, you will need a forcing vase. Forcing vases are specially designed vessels with narrow midsections that hold bulbs above the water. Place a paperwhite bulb inside and add water until it just touches the base of the bulb. Bulbs covered with water will rot.
Once flowers begin blooming, move them to a cool spot out of direct sunlight to help flowers last as long as possible.
There are several ways to manage paperwhites’ only character flaw – their tendency to fall over. Staking is common. Set bamboo stakes in place when planting bulbs or when foliage is still short. Stakes can be inserted around the perimeter of or within a container. Branches from the garden can also be used as stakes; a small obelisk is another option.
Another idea: plant bulbs in a tall clear vase where the foliage will be supported by the sides of the vase. Or give your paperwhites a shot – of alcohol. A study by the Flowerbulb Research Program at Cornell University confirmed watering with a dilute solution of four to six percent alcohol when the foliage is a couple inches tall reduces growth and prevents flopping.
Gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila and rum are all appropriate choices; beer and wine should not be used. To calculate the correct mixture, take the percentage of alcohol on the label and divide by five. More is not better. A dilute solution of more than ten percent is toxic to bulbs. In correct proportions, paperwhites grown by this method grow one-third to one-half as tall but the flowers will remain just as large as their teetotaling counterparts.
Ziva sports clusters of large, white flowers with a spicy scent that can fill a room. It is one of the best varieties for forcing in water. Chinese Sacred Lily shows off blooms with white petals and yellow cups. Its fragrance is a little less intense than Ziva. For those who find the scent of paperwhites too strong and sweet, Inbal is the best choice. Its fragrance is quite delicate. Inbal should be grown in soil for the best results.
Paperwhites add a seasonal touch to your holiday home. They also make lovely gifts for family, friends and holiday hostesses.
Gardeners can keep their gardening thumbs green throughout winter months by bringing amaryllis bulbs into bloom. Flamboyant flowers in brilliant shades of red, pink, orange, white and combinations of these brighten even the dreariest, snowy days.
Botanically named Hippeastrum, these plants are native to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Some believe they were introduced to Europe in the 1700’s; others think they were discovered in 1828 by Uduard Frederich Poepping, a German physician, on a plant-hunting expedition. Purportedly, Thomas Jefferson mentions amaryllis in his writings as early as 1811.
Today, most amaryllis bulbs are imported from Holland where hybridizers continue to create new varieties so gardeners have a vast selection from which to choose. They can be purchased at your local garden center, from catalogs or on-line.
Select bulbs carefully. Inspect bulbs to be sure they are firm and dry without sign of injury. Purchase the largest bulbs you can find because, when it comes to amaryllis bulbs, size does matter. The larger the bulb, the more stems and flowers it will produce.
If you can’t plant bulbs right away, store them in cool, dark spot – 40 to 50 degrees is best. If you want your amaryllis flowering at a particular time, count back six to eight weeks from the desired blooming time. Or plant a few bulbs every two to three weeks for nonstop blooms all winter long.
Choose a heavy container or add rocks to a lightweight pot – amaryllis flowers are heavy. The container must have drainage, should be deep enough for strong roots to develop, and just an inch or two wider than the bulb. Amaryllis prefer to be snug in their pots. I like to plant five to seven bulbs in a bowl placing them barely an inch apart.
Fill the container with good quality, well-drained potting soil. Plant bulbs so their ‘shoulders’ are just above soil level. Press the soil firmly around the bulb and water thoroughly. Place the pot in a sunny spot and hold off on watering again until you see growth begin.
As the stem emerges, water regularly. It won’t take long for stems to reach one to two feet tall and the magnificent flowers to open. To help blooms last as long as possible, move the pot out of direct sunlight.
Care after Blooming
Proper care after your amaryllis after their blooms have faded will result in a repeat performance next year. Deadhead flowers as they decline. Wait to remove stems until they yellow. When all the flowers have been removed, move the pot back to a sunny location.
After all danger of frost has passed in the spring, you can plant your amaryllis outside, pot and all. Introduce it to its new digs slowly. Start it in a shady spot to acclimate it before moving it to a brighter location. Continue to water and fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer as leaves grow all summer.
Before the first frost in fall, it’s time to bring the amaryllis back inside and put it in a sunny window. Let the soil dry completely. Cut back the foliage after it browns. Move it to a cool, dark place where it can rest for 8 to 12 weeks.
After this respite, begin the process all over again. Because amaryllis enjoy being pot-bound, they won’t require repotting every year. When they do, repot them now.
Few bulbs are as easy to grow. Pick up some for yourself and a few more to give as holiday gifts for gardening friends.