The Daily

15 November 2022

Here we are half-way through November. You what that means? (Apart from we’re half-way through November!!!) It’s time to plant those amaryllis bulbs if you want blooms for the holidays. Most will need about six weeks to flower.

Place the bulbs in rich soil with only about one third of the bulb below the soil line. Keep them warm and make sure they’re getting plenty of sunlight. Water sparingly until there are leaves, then keep their soil evenly moist at all times.

After the holidays allow the bulb to die back on its own, then discard the dead parts and dig up the bulb. Store this in a paper bag kept in a cool dry space. You should be able to get blooms out of the bulb for years. I’ve heard tales of amaryllis bulbs being handed down, one generation to the next, but that might be apocryphal.

My birthday is at the end of January, so I like to plant my bulbs around the beginning of December. Then I have flowers for my otherwise rather barren natal anniversary. I also like to do paperwhites later; I think they feel more in tune with Candlemas than Yule. And since there is no hope of snowdrops by early February in this part of the world, paperwhites seem a suitable replacement.

If you are really dedicated to holiday flowers, I think now is when you can start to bring your poinsettias out of the dark cave they’ve been living in since the beginning of October. They need about ten weeks of twelve hours of total darkness each night to trigger budding. After the buds have set, around Thanksgiving, the pots can come back out for as much sunshine as is possible this time of year.

I’ve never been diligent enough with poinsettia care to get them to rebloom. I’ve also not spent much of my life without small beings, human and non, in my house; and toxic poinsettias are sort of an unnecessary risk. So I buy one or two usually from the hardware store, though last year being employed at the greenhouse and having no cat at home, I had a bonanza.

Ironically, I spent much of last December trying to keep the store cat from eating the plants. She wiped out the cyclamen and tried her darnedest to eat all the pink and red blooms elsewhere in the store. And then she threw it all up… usually in high traffic areas… because…

So maybe, given the black fuzzy menace who lives with me now, I’ll just skip the poinsettias this year. But my Christmas cacti are gearing up for a spectacular show!

For those who live a spiritual life, wealth is not only unnecessary but uncomfortable. It stops the development of one’s real life. — Tolstoy, Calendar of Wisdom, 15 November

©Elizabeth Anker 2022

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