Plant each bulb in a pot – bulbs may also be clustered in a larger pot. A terra-cotta pot is a good choice because it helps to counterbalance the weight of the flowers. Use any commercial potting mix (available at garden centers and home stores) or pebbles. Plant so that the top one-third to one-half of the bulb is ABOVE the level of the potting mix. Water thoroughly after planting and set the pot in a sunny window (south- or west-facing is best). Room temperature (60°–75°F) is ideal — the warmer the room the faster the bulb will grow.
Water sparingly until growth is clearly under way, then water thoroughly whenever the surface of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Do not let the bottom of the bulb sit in water – just the roots. Turn the pot daily to promote balanced growth (the stems will lean toward the window). In the average home, flowers will appear 8–12 weeks after planting (Rapido may flower in as little as 5 weeks after planting and the bulb we tried this year the white Ice Queen is supposed to bloom by Christmas). Bloom can be prolonged by moving the bulb to a cool location at night.
It is possible to get your amaryllis to flower again the following winter. As the flowers on each stem fade, cut the stem to 2 inches above the top of the bulb. Do NOT cut the leaves. Continue to water as needed and begin fertilizing monthly with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer (mixed as directed) – not sure this is necessary but wouldn’t hurt doing it. After the danger of frost has passed in spring, set the pot outdoors in a shady location. Over the course of a week or so, gradually increase the bulb’s exposure to sunlight. The bulb needs lots of sun (ideally more than six hours a day in northern regions) to store up the energy it needs to flower.
The bulb can be left in its pot, moved to a larger pot or planted (at the same level) in the ground. Continue to water and fertilize the bulb through summer. In late summer or fall (some gardeners wait until after the first frost), bring the pot indoors (or lift the bulb from the soil) and place it in a cool (50°F is ideal), dry location such as a basement for 8–10 weeks. Then pot the bulb (if necessary) as directed above and put it in a sunny window. Start the cycle again!
Paperwhites can be planted in a commercial potting mix in a conventional pot. They can also be planted in pebbles in a bowl or similar container that does not have a drainage hole in the bottom (a clear container allows you to see the water level). The container should be at least 3 inches deep. Fill the pot or container with potting mix or pebbles to within 2 inches of the rim. Set the bulbs very closely (it’s OK if they touch). Cover with additional potting mix or pebbles, leaving just the necks exposed. Water thoroughly. If you are planting in pebbles, water with care. The water level should be just below the bottoms of the bulbs. If the bulbs sit in water, they may rot.
Place the container in a cool (50°F is ideal) place such as a closet or basement. Cool temperatures stimulate root growth. If you don’t have a cool location, set the container on the floor away from radiators or heat vents. Check the bulbs frequently and water as necessary. Do not let the bulbs dry out.
When the bulbs are firmly rooted and growth begins to show (about 2 weeks after potting), move the container to a sunny window. Water as needed. Paperwhites in active growth can be very thirsty; they may need to be watered every 3–4 days. Rotate the container daily to promote balanced growth (the leaves and stems will lean toward the light). If the plants grow tall and look as though they may topple, support them with twine and stakes. Florist’s wire can also be used.
Paperwhites generally bloom 5–6 weeks after planting. You can stagger plantings to keep the color and fragrance coming. Store unplanted bulbs in a cool (but not freezing) location. Paperwhites are frost tender, and it’s difficult to get them to flower well again indoors. We suggest that you discard the bulbs after they bloom.