Lifestyles
Growing amaryllis, narcissus, and hyacinths indoors for the winter season
By Sharrie Ely, Denton County Master Gardener
Feb 6, 2024
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In the darker days of winter, it’s always lovely to have beautiful flowers. Even now it’s not too late to consider “forcing” bulbs to enjoy indoor blooms for the winter season.

If you are sensitive to fragrance, then grow amaryllis as they have no scent.  For fragrant indoor flowers, you can grow paperwhites (a type of narcissus). Hyacinths are another bulb you can grow for great fragrance, but they will take more prep than narcissus and amaryllis.

If you would like to grow amaryllis or paperwhites, “forcing” is not necessary as these bulbs do not need be chilled.  Plant them now, in a container with soil. The container may or may not have a drain hole which is just fine for bulbs.  Without a drain hole, your bulbs won’t need as much water.  Place the planted bulbs in bright, indirect light.

When selecting amaryllis bulbs select larger bulbs. The larger bulb size will have more stored energy and you will see this in the bloom results.  Larger bulbs will also typically produce stronger stems.  Check that the bulb is clean and free of mold, decay, or cuts and is firm.

One variety of narcissus bulb, ‘Ziva’ is known to be divisive.  Around 50 percent of people enjoy the scent while 50 percent do not. If you do not care for the fragrance of ‘Ziva’, then experiment and try other narcissus, like ‘Avalanche’, 'Grand Soleil d'Or', ‘Winter Sun’, or ‘Ariel’.

Top the soil of your plantings with colored glass, rocks, moss, grit, or fine gravel. When planting the taller-growing amaryllis and narcissus, use a stake for your plant. Use a dowel rod painted dark green or even an interesting stick that you have found in your yard. Decorative stakes can also be purchased online in garden stores or large retail sites. Tie the plant to your stake with a pretty ribbon, twine, or coated wire.

Hyacinths are fun to grow but need a chilling period to grow indoors.  Refrigerate these bulbs for 12 weeks in a paper bag, away from apples, pears, and bananas and then pot in soil or in a hyacinth vase with water. The water should below the bulb, not touching the root.  Handle hyacinth bulbs with gloves as they contain calcium oxalate which is a skin irritant. Do not touch your face after handling hyacinth bulbs as it can cause a burning or stinging sensation.

If you are shopping for bulbs online, popular colors may be sold out. Look for bargains online and check out Box DIY Stores for markdowns on bulbs as stores may be getting ready for the spring season.  Next year, shop early for your bulbs. Make a note in your phone or on your calendar to shop for the best bulb selection in August.  Some sources for bulbs are Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, John Scheepers, or Van Engelen, Inc.  Buy several and share with friends or make plans to share as gifts.

Happy Gardening!

The Denton County Master Gardener Association