Every year I try to buy at least one new amaryllis bulb. What seems like a needless expense in the fall when I am still coming down from a bright and plentiful growing season, is almost essential by the time the long grey days of winter kick in. That little boost of colour and life is worth every penny.
I bought this year’s amaryllis, Hippeastrum papillio aka Butterfly amaryllis back in late September while I was at a garden shop picking up spring flowering bulbs for the garden. I have been longing to acquire this beautiful variety for years, but the price — often over $25 per bulb — put me off. Ever driven by a deal, I threw caution to the wind when I found mine at a $3.00 discount. Hey, it was the last one in the bin!
Busy with putting the garden to bed, planting new bulbs, reshaping the garden, and putting up about a million pounds in green tomatoes, I forgot about my wildly expensive bulb underneath a pile of garden-related debris on the kitchen table until I spotted it in distress and attempting to push its first flower spike through its mesh cage. I quickly potted it up and it rewarded me with the first two blooms over Christmas. They’re shrivelled now, but another spike is beginning to emerge. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t bloom while we’re on vacation. Although, that would sure teach me for neglecting it early on. I’ve read that this variety isn’t particularly reliable about reblooming in the future, so I could be paying a penance for years to come.
On Getting a Deal
You can save money and buy discounted, albeit somewhat worse for wear bulbs just after the holiday rush. If you’re buying kits don’t be afraid to open the box and check the condition of the bulb inside. A long life on the shelf past its bloom date can lead to desiccation, and sometimes they’ve already bloomed a gnarled, misshapen stem inside the box. Even still, most amaryllis bulbs have a second bloom in them before their season is out, and they often come back and even reproduce in subsequent years if you take some added care post-flower. Sometimes they come back even when you don’t take as much care as you should. Most standard varieties are tough as nails. It’s worth getting a few cut-rate bulbs that will sometimes surprise you with an errant bloom into the even bleaker days of January and February.