It’s the time of year when amaryllis and paperwhite kits are showing up in all the stores. You can get them at the grocery store, the hardware store, a big box store and just about any place else you go. Or you can go to a garden center or order them from a bulb grower and pay maybe twice as much. Why would you do that?
There’s a bunch of reasons, actually. You might want a particular color. (Remember me, wanting the white amaryllis last year, so I bought it at a garden center and it turned out to be that amazing funky red? Lesson learned. I ordered white this year from 2 separate bulb growers).
But despite my experience last year, I am not sorry about supporting an independent garden center and never will be! We have to do all we can to keep them in business or there will be no garden centers left to shop!
Both bulb growers and garden centers offer far more numerous choices, colors, varieties and selection of amaryllis than anywhere else. Garden centers may even have some already planted if you want to give one as a gift. Something pre-planted and already growing makes a nicer gift than just a bulb.
Finally, there’s the size of the bulb. When I received this bulb, I was advised to plant it in an 8″ pot. Those kits come with 6″ pots–or smaller. That tells you that the bulbs are smaller–and they have to be to get the bulb, soil disk and inner and outer pot all into the box.
So while initially it seems that this bulb is more expensive, it’s going to yield more flowers–and produce more over a lifetime, if you’re interested in that.
Since I save my amaryllis from year to year, I am interested in lifetime productivity. These, as well as others you don’t see, will bloom for me again next year.
So with amaryllis it pays to start off large. Don’t skimp on the bulbs.
I am tempted to force Amaryllis belladonna. It is naturalized here, and blooms so profusely that there is no need to grow any inside. I just want to see if it can be done.
This year I am trying scilla hyacinthoides–the Spanish bluebells, I think is the common name? They’re a later bulb and again, not uncommon at all. Just something different to try. I will probably try them in soil though.
It took me many years to realize that, in the world of Amaryllis, size really does matter!
This is really true of all bulbs, as I am discovering. I am forcing hyacinths and I got them from 2 different bulb growers. One of them shipped bulbs that were significantly larger than the other. It’s going to be interesting to see if I get 2 flower stalks from both sets of bulbs–or just from the larger ones. With bulbs, bigger is always better! What a sad cliche.
I’ve learned that there are two types of amaryllis, with the bulbs native to Africa much larger naturally, and those native to South America are smaller but bloom earlier. I have both types now and treat them the same and enjoy them all!
Yes, actually you are correct. The cybister type of amaryllis from South Africa are smaller all over–bulb size and those gorgeous delicate blooms.
But just like other Holland bulbs, the large flowering amaryllis (and your excellent comment makes me realize that I should have been clearer in my post), do indeed come in sizes. Longfield Gardens has a blog post on this, with photos, dimensions of the bulbs in centimeters, and how those dimensions relate to flowering. It was far too technical for me to incorporate into my post, but it’s great reading!