These paper whites are growing in a glass bowl of marbles
These paper whites are growing in a glass bowl of marbles.
© Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center
Samba amaryllis
'Samba' amaryllis has bg red ruffled blooms, edged and marked with white.

The holidays are a hectic time and the last thing we want is to fret over live plants for the table or mantle. Fear not. Ready-to-grow bulbs to the rescue.

Amaryllis is a big, fat bulb that comes ready to sprout, then blooms with just a bit of potting mix and water. The flowers are single or double red, white, pink, striped or speckled. A yellow Amaryllis is more rare.

Paper white narcissus bulbs also come programmed to grow and you don’t even need dirt. Just a little water and some pebbles will do the job. The fragrant flowers are white.

Really. It’s just that easy.


Plant amaryllis in a pot with drainage that’s 1-2 inches wider than the bulb. Or plant three or four bulbs in a 10-12 inch wide pot. Make sure the pot is deep enough to accommodate the bulb and large enough to handle a blooming amaryllis, which can be top heavy. Large, trumpet-like flowers unfurl atop 12-20 inch stalks 8-12 weeks after planting.

Allow the top couple of inches of the bulb, called the shoulder, to remain above the soil line. Water the new planting well and place in a bright window. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not sopping wet.

The blooming amaryllis stalks can be cut and used in floral arrangements or singly in a vase. The flowers tend to last a bit longer when cut and placed in water.

Amaryllis is not winter hardy. Some gardeners save their amaryllis bulbs, forcing them to bloom year after year. Others toss the bulb when it’s done blooming.

Growing paper whites

Paper Whites

Place paper white bulbs on top a layer of pebbles or rocks in a container that holds water. Add water until it reaches the very bottom of the bulbs, where roots will form. Keep water at that level. Place in a cool spot with bright light, but out of direct sun. Flowers emerge atop 8-15 inch stems four to six weeks after planting.

Sometimes paper whites will stretch and lean over. Consider staking them or tying a soft ribbon around the stems, one-half to two-thirds of the way up. Paper whites are not winter hardy, so toss them when they have finished blooming.