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Sonoma County Gazette

Live Beauty ~ Gifts of Flowering Bulbs

Nov 27, 2017


By Savita Wilder

Nature creates the best gifts! Fall-planted bulbs are now available in our local nurseries*, and there are many ways to plant and gift them.  Here are 3 easy and lovely ways.

 POT FULL OF LAYERED BULBS - or as the Dutch say, “ bulb lasagne”. This can be done simply in a small pot that has space for 2 or 3 layers, or in a large pot with space for 5 or 6 layers. Additionally, one can also apply this layering principal to a garden plot for a riot of spring color. Here are a few keys:

1) USE GOOD SOIL, as the bulbs will be sharing the nutrients. Any good gardening soil mix will do, or add compost to your current soil. Choose a pot with drain holes.

2) LAYER ACCORDING TO THE BULB SIZE Place the larger bulbs deep toward the bottom of the bowl. e.g. daffodils or paperwhite narcissus or large alliums, about 6 inches deep. Add a couple inches of soil, and arrange the next layer. e.g. dutch iris or small alliums. Progress upwards in this fashion e.g. next might be muscaris, often called grape hyacinths. The top layer of small bulbs will sit just under the surface of the soil e.g. wild or species tulips with some crocus and anemones.

3) Your full pot may be placed outside where the bulbs receive rain and sunshine.



This is actually a nickname for HIPPEASTRUMS. Oh, such astounding beauty! What a joy to watch the flower stems grow (sometimes an inch each day) and open up gorgeous blossom after blossom. So many different colors and shapes are now available. Some of us become Hippeastrum addicts when we discover that not only are they easy to grow inside the home, but the flowers open up in sequence and last for weeks and weeks in all their beauty.

The Amaryllis bulbs that have been grown in South Africa where their autumn is our spring, can be planted in early November for Holiday bloom. The bulbs of Dutch Amaryllis will take much longer to bloom, and each variety has its own natural schedule.

A suberb gift is a big Amaryllis bulb in a lovely bag or box, with growing instructions. The basic instructions are easy--what they need is a beautiful container, maximum amount of light through a window and the warmth of the house. That’s it. The bigger the bulb the more flower stems will emerge. There is even a “giant” bulb which will push up 4 stems in sequence, each with 4 or 5 flowers. That is amazing beauty.


As a matter of fact, "paperwhites" is simply the common name for a division of Daffodils or Narcissus that is called the Tazettas.(Did you know there are 13 different Divisions of Daffodils, each with their own characteristics?) The Tazettas are naturally very hardy, bloom under many conditions and thus are easy to "force" inside the house.

Choose the variety carefully, as some people adore the flowers'  fragrance while others find it overwhelming.  If you love the smell, choose the varieties" Ziva" or "Nir".  The variety" Ariel" has a similar fragrance but has shorter and stronger stems.  For a light, sweeter fragrance try "Inball" or "Wintersun" or "Falconet" (lovely yellow and orange).

 Many folks love to force them by simply nestling some bulbs into some glass marbles or river pebbles in a shallow bowl.   Or, you can plant them shallowly into a deeper bowl filled with regular planting soil.   Place the bowl full in a bright window of the house and watch them grow.  Such fun!

“Easy to Grow” bulbs, a reliable distributor in Southern California, has an excellent website filled with information. Here in Sonoma County, Savita Wilder carries 20 different Amaryllis varieties and is eager to share her enthusiasm about growing Amaryllis. Email Savita at for info.

* for locally-owned nurseries


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