Christmas at Grandma’s house was always fun.
There was the big fragrant tree, usually a cedar cut from the fence row at the north edge of the farm and decorated with a collection of handmade ornaments that were saved and added to from year to year.
There were lots of gifts around the tree and good smells of good foods coming from the kitchen.
The centerpiece of the kitchen table was always one of Granny’s old clay pots that contained a huge flowering red amaryllis.
This spectacular plant never showed up before Christmas morning.
But my grandmother, being the smart gardener that she was, knew how to time it just right so the huge trumpet-shaped blooms appeared by Christmas day as if to herald the arrival of the holiday.
She potted the big amaryllis bulb in early to mid-November using good potting soil, leaving the top and shoulders of the stem exposed.
Then she would water it and set the pot in a dark, cool (55 to 62 degrees F) place, probably the laundry room where we wouldn’t see it until she was ready to show it off.
After that, the plant only needed light occasional watering to keep it going.
Amaryllis grows quite rapidly, and reaches the flowering stage in about 6 to 8 weeks.
After blooming, the main stalks that hold the fading blooms should be cut back to about 2 or 3 inches in height, leaving the remaining foliage in place.
Granny would do this, then maintain the plant indoors during the rest of the winter months, until she moved the potted plant outdoors to a shady area of her garden after the springtime temperatures had warmed the air.
There it would stay throughout the remainder of the summer.
Before the first frost of autumn, the bulb was brought back indoors, lightly fertilized and watered, and allowed to go dormant.
Then before thoughts of Thanksgiving turkey even entered her mind, Grandma would repot the bulb in fresh potting soil and start the whole process again.
Amaryllis belongs to the genus Hippeastrum, and comes in a limited variety of colors: red, pink, white, and sometimes salmon.
The giant bulbs can often be found already potted, packaged, and ready to grow, available especially around Christmas holiday time.
Why not give one to your grandma, and see if she doesn’t like it?