If you haven’t already potted paperwhites or amaryllis bulbs to force blooms during the holidays, it’s not likely you’ll have them in time for St. Nick. But that’s no reason not to snap up the bulb kits that will be reduced in the next few weeks.
Retailers consider bulb kits seasonal items and begin reducing them aggressively just before Christmas, but let that be your good fortune. A single amaryllis bulb costs around $4.99, and paperwhites are around $1 per bulb. Evaluate any amount over that as the price of the container.
Look for kits that come with a container you an use again and again. For example, last year’s Smith and Hawken bulb kit at Target came with a great cachepot that is now serving me perfectly as a utensil holder.
Already bags of fall bulbs have been reduced at Lowe’s, and bulbs like paperwhites or hyacinths will make wonderful forced blooms indoors that will brighten the dreary winter months. Just put some of these bulbs in a shallow container atop gravel or river rocks (find a bag of smooth rocks at the dollar store) and add enough water to touch the base of the bulbs.
Amaryllis, paperwhites, and hyacinth are so easy to force indoors – and so delightful to watch growing – that I’m amazed more moms don’t keep pots going all winter long. (Fair warning: Hyacinth have a heavenly fragrance, but the scent of paperwhites can become overwhelming.)
Bulbs are the best value for your indoor winter decorations and your outdoor spring garden. For heaven’s sake, don’t throw them away after they’ve bloomed indoors. Once the blooms fade, toss the bulbs in a paper bag and store them in the basement or garage until you have a chance to plant them. You’ll be rewarded again in the spring or early summer, year after year, with a living reminder of holidays past.
Just look at this bank of amaryllis bulbs at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens this past May. You’ve got the same climate and only slightly less chance of success (after all, there is a full time staff tending the Botanical Gardens, and you’re lucky just to keep up with the laundry).
Grab these bulbs wherever you find them on sale, whether a nursery, big box store, or the grocer. You may like Black Friday now, but you’ll be ready for bright red or glowing white another spring.