If you are looking for a wonderful gift for someone on your list, Amaryllis bulbs are a perfect choice. I don't know anyone who wouldn't like to have this huge, showy bulb blooming in their home! It's an especially great gift for gardeners who really miss seeing things growing this time of year.
Yesterday, I purchased an Amaryllis bulb kit from Northwest Seed & Pet for $8.99. A kit is basically a bulb, some potting soil and a flower pot. You can also buy individual Amaryllis bulbs and provide your own container for planting them. These bulbs can be found in stores everywhere, usually in kit form.
Last year, my husband Bill gave me 2 Amaryllis bulbs, one of which came with the basket and glass hurricane vase you see in the photo above, so that's what I'm going to plant mine in. The variety I bought is 'Apple Blossom' which should be beautiful when it starts blooming.
You can use any type of container but be sure to select one that is quite sturdy since blooming Amaryllis can get rather top-heavy. I prefer to use containers that have drainage holes for everything I grow indoors. My glass vase doesn't have holes in it, so I'm just careful not to over-water the bulb.
To plant the bulbs, you can use a sterile potting mix or even just grow them in a container filled with marbles or pebbles.
If you're using potting soil, lightly moisten it first. Place a couple of inches of it into the bottom of the container, then put the bulb (with the pointy-end up) on top of that. Continue adding soil until all but the top third of the bulb is covered.
Place the container in a sunny location where the temperature stays at about 60 degrees or above. Being near a south-facing window is ideal and will speed up its growth. Since the bulb will rot if you over-water it, only water when the top inch of the potting medium feels dry to the touch.
You will be amazed at how quickly the bulb starts growing. It's actually the moisture of the potting medium that causes it to sprout. As it grows, the stalk will probably lean in the direction of the sunlight so be sure to rotate the pot every few days to encourage straight growth.
Amaryllis will take about 8 to 10 weeks to start blooming, and once they do, the flowers are breathtaking. To illustrate how quickly they grow, I'm planning to take a photo of mine at least once a week so you can monitor its growth.
I hope this information will encourage you to buy Amaryllis bulbs, both for gifts and for yourself. They are truly the perfect gift that goes easy on the budget!