Amaryllis on My Mind

Last year, the boxes of amaryllis bulbs weren’t stacked in the hardware store aisles like before. 

“We didn’t get any from the warehouse,” said the clerk. Supply chains were slowly re-starting after the pandemic. I found one bulb at Michael’s and nurtured its single lackluster bloom. That was the year without my amaryllis offensive.

Previously, my Christmas tradition had been to pre-plant amaryllis bulbs and give them as gifts to family, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, friends, even hostesses at holiday parties. It vibes a homemade gift without the hours of effort, and we avoid the all-purpose candles and other schlock.

In early November, I plant them in festive pots (toss out the hideous ones that come with the kit), and by the week before Christmas, the turgid stem, nurturing several fat buds, is driving skyward. My giftee gets to savor the process through the holidays until January when the larger-than-life, glorious red flowers unfurl–sometimes four or more. As the post-Christmas gloom lays siege, they have a symphony of scarlet to lift their  winter doldrums. 

Here’s the other amazing thing: It’s the ultimate boomerang gift. I can count on friends or family to text me a photograph when the amaryllis is in full bloom just to apprise me of the progress. It’s as if it’s an open adoption and I’m entitled to developmental updates. The continued connection is wonderful. 

The other really fun thing is an amaryllis is virtually care-free. Splash some water in the dirt to keep it moist and turn the pot regularly so the stem (which bends toward the light) grows straight. But wait, there’s more. After January, you can leave it alone and amazingly, later in the spring, it will bloom again, and I’ll get another round of photographs from friends and family. 

Once a friend carted her plant to the attic after the holiday, and months later discovered the neglected bulb had re-bloomed in the dark! Even discarded on the compost pile, they’ll live to fight another day. 

The miracle amaryllis. Sustainable and beautiful, it’s the gift that keeps on giving–to both of us.  

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