How to grow Indoor bulbs for Christmas
If you love to have flowers indoors at Christmas time plant indoor bulbs such as Hyacinths, Hippeastrum (commonly called Amaryllis), or daffodil varieties such dwarf Tete-a-tete, or sweetly scented Narcissus Paper White 'Ziva' or ‘Grand Soleil d’ Or’. They can all be forced into flower indoors between 8-12 weeks after planting...and that means ordering them NOW!
Amaryllis and narcissus need a cool spell to replicate winter dormancy followed by warm bright conditions to fool the bulbs into thinking its spring; but bulbs such as hyacinths need a period of dark as well as cold, so they’ll need slightly different treatment.
Narcissus and Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)
Plant the bulbs in containers of bulb fibre, plant with the tip of the bulbs showing above the compost; Amaryllis can be planted with up to half the bulb exposed.
Water the compost and keep the pots somewhere cool. Around 8-10 weeks before Christmas bring the planted containers into a warm and sunny position, a warm windowsill is ideal, keep the compost moist and wait for the bulbs to flower.
Plant Hyacinths in the same way as narcissi, with the tip of the bulbs showing above the compost but keep the containers in a cool, dark place for around 10 weeks, keep them watered and bring into a warm, light position as soon as flower buds emerge.
All Indoor bulbs
Turn the pots regularly to prevent the stems from leaning towards the light and, as the stems emerge, give them some support to prevent them flopping. You can do this with canes and string but the coloured stems of cornus or willow tied with natural raffia or narrow ribbon, look particularly attractive.
After the bulbs have flowered indoor narcissus and hyacinths can be planted outside in a sheltered position.
Amaryllis bulbs are usually discarded after Christmas but if you want to keep them for another year feed and water the bulbs regularly to keep them growing until September. Stop watering from September and let the foliage die back. Place the bulb in a cool frost-free place for 1 or 2 months and then start them back into life in a warm, well lit room, ready to start their flowering cycle again.
In their first year Amaryllis are reliable Christmas flowers but they’ll often flower at a different time in subsequent years; with blooms appearing at any time from late winter to mid spring.