Holiday Gift Ideas: Give Plants, Gifts You Can Grow

Need holiday gifts ideas? Try giving spring bulbs of amaryllis and paperwhite narcissus.

| November/December 2006

Force of nature

Spring bulbs make great holiday gifts because they can be tricked into blooming early. You can "force" out-of-season blooms easily with a little water, temperature fluctuation and light. The easiest bulbs to force are paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis because, unlike other spring bulbs, they don't require a "chilling" period to induce flowering. Find them at your local garden center or through mail order.

If you wish, you can force the bulbs first and create a gift already in bloom. However, half the fun of forcing bulbs is anticipating the bloom, so you may want to wrap up the materials, add an instruction sheet (see "Amaryllis Growing Instructions" and "Paperwhite Narcissus Growing Instructions" on page 30) and make part of the gift the joyful experience of coaxing beautiful blooms from the earth during winter.


One amaryllis bulb is all you need to create a spectacular winter display. When planted in its own soil-filled flowerpot for about four to seven weeks (depending upon indoor temperatures), the bulb will produce a tall cluster of huge, exotic-looking flowers that last for weeks. Choose a flowerpot that has drainage holes and allows for at least 1 inch of space between the sides and the bulb. (A 6-inch pot is usually about the right size.) Amaryllis bulbs are available in red, pink, white, peach, orange and even multicolored varieties.

For gift giving: Place the amaryllis bulb inside the empty flowerpot and set the saucer upside-down on top. Tie with raffia or ribbon to hold saucer in place. Attach the growing instructions to the flowerpot. Fill a small plastic bag with soil (enough to fill the pot later) and place inside the paper gift bag. Tie the bag with matching raffia or ribbon.

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