Gifts of flowering bulbs can brighten the holidays

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RICHMOND—Holiday shopping for flower lovers is a snap with a gift of potted bulbs.

Purchased from local greenhouses and nurseries, bulbs will bloom indoors, adding a bright accent on bleak winter days.

“Potted paperwhites or amaryllises make great holiday gifts,” said Ann Meisoll, a manager at Strange’s Florists, Greenhouses and Garden Centers in Richmond. “It’s simple to buy the bulbs already planted. If people want to plant their own, it is super easy and quick. There’s not much time or money involved. Just plant the bulbs in a pot and they are ready to give. 

“If you keep an amaryllis plant in the pot after it blooms, it will bloom again,” Meisoll added. “Keep it inside during the winter, and the pot can go outside during the summer.”

Nursery operations like Strange’s are part of Virginia’s green industry, which includes nursery and greenhouse products. The green industry generated nearly $300 million in cash receipts in 2014, which makes it an important part of Virginia agriculture, noted Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“Flower bulbs bloom a profusion of bright color and make great Christmas gifts,” Banks said. “Throughout the year, most people want to add some sort of plant material to enhance their yards and inside their homes. We also see a significant number of businesses that utilize plant materials to make their properties both attractive and environmentally friendly.”

At Cross Creek Nursery in Midlothian, Marketing Manager Kristi Voli said that amaryllis is the most popular holiday gift grown from a bulb.

“It’s lovely to have something blooming in the house in the winter,” Voli explained. “However, if you want amaryllis to flower for Christmas, you need to plan ahead. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for them to bloom.”

Besides planting bulbs in potted soil, Voli suggested putting bulbs in glass containers with pebbles and water to force them to bloom.

“There are lots of varieties and fun colors of amaryllis. They come in red, pink, white and novelty varieties including candy cane. Their time to shine is during the holidays.”

Media: Contact Banks at 804-290-1114.

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