The most common bulbs of Yule

Three most common choices for December tend to be hyacinths, paper whites and amaryllis.

Some of us are under the impression that once all the tulips and daffodils are tucked away in the garden that bulb season has come to an end.

Truth be told, there probably isn’t a time of the year when bulbs of one sort or another aren’t available for planting, and Christmas is no exception.

While there are probably a few forced bulbs (crocus, grape hyacinths) still available, the three most common choices for December tend to be prepared hyacinths, paperwhites and the always impressive amaryllis.

Prepared hyacinths are those given a 10-12 week cold period (mimicking winter dormancy) so that you can basically plant them indoors and watch them grow.

You don’t necessarily need to use soil as the highly attractive purple-skinned bulbs (except for whites) will gladly root into trays of glass beads or ornamental rocks.

Clear or tinted hyacinth glasses are also available – these are essentially a mini-vase made to hold a solitary bulb just above the water you pour into the reservoir below. The trick is to start these in a dark cool room and keep the water level just at the root zone (don’t immerse the bulbs).

Once you get several inches of green growth, they are ready to move out for display. You should handle the bulbs with gloves (many people are allergic to them) and never plant more than three together as they are potently fragrant, particularly indoors.

Paperwhites are a tender (Zone 8 hardy) member of the daffodil family (narcissus papyraceus) native to the Mediterranean and listed as Div. 8 or tazetta daffodils. These do not require a cold period and will generally bloom four to six weeks after planting, depending on room temperature.

Some gardeners plant them in the bottom of tall floral buckets, the reason being that paperwhites are often floppy and this configuration holds the stems together for a nice bouquet display. Your only other option is to use a hidden stake and tie the flowers stems together with a little raffia. They have a wonderful fragrance and make nice Christmas gifts that you can grow yourself for friends and family.

Despite the common name, paperwhites come in both white and yellow – with the most commonly available cultivars being ‘ziva’ (16-18” high, pure white with a musky fragrance) and ‘grand soleil d’or’ (12-14” high, yellow petals with an orange cup, sweet fragrance).

Amaryllis is the largest Christmas bulb with most of the hybrids derived from South American species of hippeastrum.  These plants have huge blooms with little or no fragrance (except for ‘sweet Lillian’ and ‘jewel’), which is important for families dealing with allergies. They also have an impressive colour range from white, salmon, deep red, peach, pink, yellow, orange and green, with many bicolor blooms.

There are also a few different forms including the elegant butterfly amaryllis (hippeastrum papilio) and the thin-petaled cybister types (hippeastrum cybister).

Some people start the planting process by soaking the dried roots before potting in lightly moistened indoor soil. Your container should be about seven inches deep and an inch wider than the bulb on each side, with unglazed clay or terra cotta being ideal for their breathing qualities and counterweight.

Make sure the top one third of the bulb protrudes after planting and water sparingly until it enacts growth. At this point you can liquid fertilize every 10 days, with the blooms showing up about 6-8 weeks after planting.

 

Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).

 

Just Posted

Letter: Time change has outlived its usefulness

More negative effects on people and communities then positive ones

Rotary duck race winners given sports car

First big win for Maple Ridge mother of three boys Jody Makela

Maple Ridge’s first retail cannabis store opens Monday

Spiritleaf is just the second private pot shop in the Fraser Valley

Burrards lose to Shamrocks in double overtime

WLA championship series moves to Maple Ridge Sunday

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Young balance-bikers race in B.C.’s inaugural Strider Cup

The course has several obstacles including ‘Mount Scary’ and the ‘Noodle Monster’

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Most Read