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Winter-Blooming Divas: GBBD, February 2019

February 17, 2019

Mid-February in Maine is still winter, but with a promise of spring. The world outside is snowy white, but the days are becoming noticeably longer and the sun stronger.

Lavender and white cyclamenNevertheless, it will probably be another six weeks before the first flowers bloom in my garden. Until then, I’m dependent on my flowering houseplants for floral color and joy. My faithful, cool-loving cyclamen do not disappoint, blooming on and on through the long months of winter. And yet, because they are so reliable, I can take them for granted and let them be upstaged by those dramatic, demanding, winter-blooming divas, the potted amaryllis (Hippeastrum) bulbs.

I have ten pots with amaryllis bulbs, and they demand a lot of attention: weekly fertilizing after they bloom, being packed away in the dark for eight weeks to force dormancy and then brought out into the light to wake them up, and as much warmth as I can provide for them. (They do not love my cool Maine house.) In a good year, after considerable time and attention, I may get flowers on three or four of them – just enough reward to keep me in their thrall.

red amaryllis bud 2019 charisma bud 2019

A month ago, I was celebrating the appearance of the first flower bud on one of those potted amaryllis buds. In the weeks since, two more buds have appeared and grown. Last month’s bud has now opened, and I am currently being romanced by the stunningly beautiful blooms of Hippeastrum ‘Apple Blossom.’ As these flowers fade, a set of flame red blooms will open on another plant. And these will be followed in March by the aptly named flowers of  Hippeastrum ‘Charisma.’ The performance of these divas brings joy to my winter days.

apple blossom 2019

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see other gardeners’ February blooms.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2019 10:53 pm

    ‘Apple Blossom’ is possibly my favorite Hippeastrum but, for reasons I can’t explain, I don’t have one at the moment. Why I didn’t pot up a half dozen or more for my lath house this year I can’t explain either. Those I’ve attempted to naturalize haven’t shown any indication that they’re getting with the program yet, although I haven’t entirely given up on them yet.

    • February 22, 2019 11:07 am

      Kris, One year, I went nuts ordering fancy amaryllis bulbs from a nursery; these are the ones I’ve been keeping going from year to year. Some have never bloomed again after the first year; others have been pretty reliable bloomers. I imagine the naturalized ones would bloom later because they wouldn’t get that late fall period of enforced dormancy.

  2. February 18, 2019 4:21 pm

    That is a magical picture with heaps of snow in the background.

    • February 22, 2019 11:08 am

      Believe it or not, this has not been a particularly snowy winter here. We haven’t had a single big storm with a foot or more of snow. But even with only a few inches at a time, it piles up by this time of the winter.

  3. Joan Scruggs permalink
    February 19, 2019 8:35 am

    The ‘Apple Blossom’ is gorgeous! What great colors.

    • February 22, 2019 11:09 am

      Joan, I particularly like the colors of ‘Apple Blossom’ in late winter, when they seem to speak of spring.

  4. February 20, 2019 2:09 am

    My first cyclamen were the common ‘florist’s’ cyclamen that are grown as annuals. They lived as tough perennials for many years until the site was landscaped. It annoys me that they are grown as annuals, especially since they are so expensive. I have not grown the Cyclamen coum or Cyclamen hederifolia yet.

    • February 22, 2019 11:12 am

      Tony, I haven’t tried cyclamen outdoors, although C. coum or C. hederifolia might be winter hardy here. My experience with Cyclamen persica as houseplants, though, is that they are tough perennials that will keep growing and blooming for decades with relatively little coddling.

      • February 24, 2019 1:17 am

        Indoors seems odd to me. They were just too happy in the garden to keep potted. They were dormant through summer of course.

        • February 24, 2019 11:41 am

          You are in such a different climate. Winter is our longest season here in Maine, with snow cover from sometime in November to sometime in April. Flowers blooming in pots indoors are essential to sanity for those six months when the outdoor garden is buried under a blanket of snow.

        • February 25, 2019 10:40 pm

          Oh, I know. It is just difficult to imagine how some things are grown in such different climates. I think cyclamen prefers a cooler climate than what we have here, but there would be no point in growing it if it were covered with snow while it is supposed to be active either.

  5. February 25, 2019 8:32 am

    Hello Jean, I do miss Amaryllis and “Apple Blossom” is the very one we used to have, however, they have been usurped by the Streltzia, which spends the winter indoors and is currently flowering so I am more than happy with that, while enjoying the pictures of yours.

    • March 3, 2019 2:40 pm

      Sunil, Strelitzia are the most dramatic of indoor garden divas. I would probably choose them over amaryllis, too, even if amaryllis were easier to coax into bloom. I saw Strelitzia for the first time on my first trip to Kew Gardens when I was fifty years old, and I was instantly and irrevocably smitten.

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