Christmas in spring

Published 8:00 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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For horticulturalists in southeast Virginia, May brings many surprises, one of which is the blooming of the Christmas amaryllis.

When people buy a Christmas amaryllis in November to experience its Christmas blooms, they are only witnessing the flowers’ half-life.  Once planted outside, the next spring, it will produce spectacular flowers that will surpass its Christmas beauty.  The trick is to plant the bulb halfway in the ground so the bulb can absorb the sunlight and grow.  Voles and deer do not like amaryllis, so these voracious predators are not a threat.  Once the bulbs are established, they will bloom every year in May, increasing their yield

Patti Rabil, an amaryllis enthusiast and President of the Franklin Garden Club, said, “My first bulb produced beautiful blooms outside for several years. I noticed the bulb was getting massive in the soil, so I decided to dig it up, only to find eight smaller bulbs had been produced beside the mother bulb.  I pulled them apart, replanted them, and the next year, I had a huge crop of amaryllis to admire. So many people buy at Christmas, let it bloom, and then throw it away once the blooms die.  They are missing a magnificent resurgence of beauty by not planting these bulbs in their yards.”

The amaryllis bulb can withstand our mild winters and produce year after year. After a few years, once their green leaves start appearing in mid-spring, they like a little fertilizer, 10-10-10.

For the last four years, the Franklin Garden Club has sold these magnificent Dutch bulbs in September that will bloom during the holidays. These bulbs, imported from Holland, produce flowers twice the size and quantity of those bulbs sold in local stores. The quality cannot be matched. 

The club will be selling these Dutch amaryllis bulbs in September and during the Franklin Fall Festival.  We hope to have some of the bulb selections available at the Fall Festival on Sept. 28. The ordered bulbs arrive in early November and include the bulb and planting soil. Thanks to our sponsors, Ace Hardware and Fred’s Restaurant, the potting soil is perfect for planting, and information packets for planting at Christmas and in the spring will be included.

This Franklin Garden Club fundraiser helps to support conservation projects at Blackwater Park, as well as other projects that benefit the Franklin/Southampton communities.

If you would like to see how magnificent these flowers can add to your yard’s beauty, drive by 125 Crescent Drive in Franklin during the month of May to witness their full glory.  You will be ready to start your own amaryllis garden.  For more information about the amaryllis fundraiser, contact Patti Rabil at 757-651-9241 or any Franklin Garden Club member.