GIVE A LIVING GIFT
Unique plants for the Holidays
Plants make people happy - even at Christmas. As the outside world lies dormant in shades of browns, whites, and conifer greens, the sight of an indoor, living and growing plant gives the soul, not only pleasure, but hope. And though there is nothing wrong with the traditional poinsettia which is a commonly given, the following are thoughtful and unique plants for decorating and gifting.
Paperwhites (shown above) are related to the spring-flowering daffodils, but their flowers are dainty, white, and not hardy here in Wisconsin. Use the bulbs to create a natural centerpiece for your holiday table by forcing them into bloom. Paperwhite bulbs need no chilling and will grow quickly, blooming in 3-4 weeks. Plant them now in a shallow container and surround with preserved moss and pine cones for a conversation starter at Christmas dinner.
‘Ziva’ is the most common paperwhite, but its fragrance can be too intense for some. ‘Inbal’ is a sweeter-smelling option, but if you want a very unique paperwhite, then ‘Wintersun’ is the one to grow. Instead of pure white, it is white with a yellow cup and has the sweetest fragrance of the three. Paperwhites are easy to grow in soil, but can also be placed in a glass container with pebbles and water. Once they are showing an inch of green leaves, use a 1:20 mix of alcohol to water to keep them from growing too tall.
Another flower associated with the holidays is Amaryllis. This easy-to-grow bulb makes a living gift that will bring joy early in the new year when our winter-weary spirits need a boost. Once planted in a pot with soil, Amaryllis takes 10-14 weeks to bloom. Following are three rare varieties that can be difficult to find, but the hunt is always worth the delight they bring to those that watch them grow.
Butterfly Amaryllis (Papilo) resembles an exotic orchid with its large green-tinged petals accented with maroon stripes. It is quite striking and can grow 18-24” tall with 5-6” blooms.
‘La Paz’ Amaryllis, known as the Spider lily Amaryllis and the Peace Amaryllis, is a rare beauty. It’s long, narrow reddish petals are exquisite and will be most appreciated by savant gardeners.
Closely related to ‘La Paz’, Evergreen Amaryllis has a lime green throat that flares out to slender, white petals. There are usually eight flowers per bulb that bloom at various times extending the season. ‘Evergreen’ has received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
When you gift these bulbs full of potential loveliness, you are giving the best gift possible: the gift of life, hope, and the pure joy of watching something grow.
Tracy Hankwitz is a horticulturist and the general manager of Burlington Garden Center where you'll find these and other unique bulbs while supplies last.