One of the ways I cut down on this expense, but still enjoy some blooms, is by buying potted plants instead. During Christmas 2007, I debated whether to buy a paper-white bulb or an amaryllis bulb. When I learned that a paper-white bulb only blooms once but an amaryllis bulb can re-bloom with proper care, my decision was easy - - I purchased the amaryllis bulb.
When you buy a bulb from a nursery or a store, the care is relatively idiot-proof. I just planted the bulb, watered, put the pot by a sunny window-sill and it bloomed. The flower continued to bloom for the next month or so.
- After the flower wilted, I cut off the stem and kept the pot in a sunny area. I watered and fertilized the plant regularly for the following 5 to 6 months to allow the leaves to grow. (This was necesary to allow the leaves to replenish the food storage in the bulb.);
- When the leaves began to yellow (around August), I stopped watering the plant. When the leaves turned completely yellow, I cut the leaves a couple inches above the bulb and removed the bulb from the soil;
- I cleaned the bulb and kept it in my fridge (50 to 60 degrees) for the following 6-8 weeks. (Who knew that amaryllis bulbs needed to "hybernate" in order to re-bloom?);
- In November, I re-potted the bulb, hoping for a bloom by New Year's.
Despite my best efforts, no bloom in January. Nor in February. Or March. In early April, a stalk finally sprouted and revealed 4 adorable flower buds. Hurray!
But disaster struck a couple of weeks ago -- I came home to discover the pot on the ground with the soil and the bulb spilled. I was mortified when I discovered the cracked stem. I twist-tied the stem together and prayed for the best.
I was upset. It was too reminiscent of my investments. I diligently fed and nurtured both. But due to circumstances out of my control, both my investments and my amaryllis crashed and cracked. The plant was so close to blooming and it's life may have been cut short.
But finally this week, my amaryllis bloomed. Hallelujah! All of my efforts weren't for naught!
It's clear, though, that the recent crash had a negative impact on my flower. The color isn't as vibrant and the bloom isn't as big. But who cares? It survived and it's stubbornly trying to grow, just like my 401k. I'm now hoping that the remaining buds are healthy enough to bloom as well. (*Fingers crossed*)
I feel a certain kinship and I have a sweet-spot for my amaryllis, since it's just like me - we're both a couple of late bloomers who need a lot of sleep and enjoy good food. And we've both demonstrated we can also roll with the punches!
And dare I say, we look smashing in red? *^_^*