Amaryllis: Show-stopping Blooms in February

Amaryllis bulbs are super easy to grow; just plant the bulb in a 6 or 8-inch pot with good potting soil. Provide bright, indirect light (west window) and blooms will appear in six to eight weeks.

Amaryllis bulbs prefer to be snug in a pot. Use a sturdy, heavy container to keep the top heavy blooms anchored. 


In general, it takes five to eight weeks for amaryllis to bloom. Depending on the variety, some bloom faster. Once the first of multiple, fleeting and spectacularly beautiful flowers bloom, they last an average of 10 to 12 days. When the first bloom fades, cut it off.

Have a support stake ready, either inexpensive bamboo (click here) or a wooden dowel, otherwise the tall stalk with weighty blooms will bend over at the base. You can also purchase an adjustable amaryllis stake at Gardener’s Supply (click here).

Planting date Bloom timeframe
Dec. 1 Jan. 7-28
Dec. 15 Jan. 19-Feb. 9
Jan. 1 Feb. 6-26
Jan. 15 Feb. 19-March 12
Feb. 1 March 8-29
Feb. 15 April 5-26

You can buy pre-potted amaryllis bulbs or save money and pot a bare amaryllis bulb yourself.  I purchased the bulb on the right a few days ago at Lowes for $5. They’re located in the spring bulb section near the garden seeds. It’s not too late in the (indoor) amaryllis-growing season to buy one. If you plant it now, it will bloom around early to mid-April.

Choose the beefiest bulb in the box and one that is showing a green bud. Once you pot it, the bud grows a little bit each day and then suddenly shoots up.

Amaryllis are prized for their exotic trumpet-shaped flowers on 1 to 2 foot stalks or “scapes.” My blooming amaryllis grew to 26 inches.

They’re native to Peru and South Africa. The genus Amaryllis comes from the Greek word amarysso which means to sparkle.

Moisten the potting soil before planting the bulb. Do not use garden soil because it will not drain properly.

Position the bulb so the top third remains above the soil surface.

Once the bud/sprout is 2 inches tall, water regularly.

Rotate the pot periodically during the growing stage to encourage the stalk to grow as straight as possible.

To prolong the bloom, keep away from direct sunlight and heat. 

Amaryllis bulbs have been known to bloom for up to 75 years; they make a perfect gift for just about anyone.

In order to have the bulb bloom again next year, a critical step is necessary. After the blooms have faded, cut the stalk back an inch above the top of the bulb. Feed the bulb liquid fertilizer and let the leaves grow. After the threat of frost is over, take the bulb outside, either leave in the pot or plant in the ground for the summer months to store up energy from the sun to bloom again next winter. Don’t forget to bring the amaryllis bulb back in the house at the end of the summer, well before first frost.

After the bulb(s) is brought indoors, store in a cool, dry place like a basement for at least eight weeks. During the dormant stage, stop watering, let the pot dry out and the green leaves will die back.

Pot the bulb again in early December. If you  have multiple bulbs, stagger planting for blooms throughout the winter months.





How to Install Trim

This week, we’re focusing on trim and baseboard throughout the house.

Yesterday, John installed 3 1/2″ trim around the mudroom door. We purchased 16 foot trim boards at Home Depot. One board is enough for the left and right side of the door.

When purchasing material at Home Depot or Lowes, if you see a flaw, ask for a discount at the Pro Desk. Trim flaws can be avoided with a mitre cut.

Scraps can be used on smaller openings; we have hall and linen closets with small openings.

John added shims to ensure the vertical trim was on the same plane as the horizontal trim.

The cable wire will be re-directed soon.

John uses 2-inch finish nails in his nail gun to hit the framing (2 1/2″ nails create a larger hole).

The trim will be caulked so that it looks like one piece before painting with semi-gloss. 

Between the ceiling and the top of the trim, there is a 1/8th-inch gap–just enough space for a caulk line. The caulk line eliminates any difference in height from left to right.

It’s rare for any ceiling to be perfectly level, so when the 1/8th-inch gap is caulked, it will marry the trim to the ceiling for an appearance of a “leveled look.” Otherwise, it would look “off.”


Did you Know?

Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending occasion after Christmas. In 1840, Valentine cards became mass-produced. 

Valentine’s Trivia:

As far back as the Middle Ages, Valentine greetings were popular. However, written Valentine’s didn’t begin until after 1400. The oldest known Valentine still in existence was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at Agincourt. The Valentine is housed at the British Library in London.

Installing New Steps & Risers

John started installing the treads (steps) and risers at the bottom of the staircase leading to the master bedroom wing.

However, he installed the top riser first to ensure the bullnose was in the proper position.

Each tread must be leveled left and right as well as front to back.

This is what the recessed high hats look like on the other side of the drywall. John installed 80 of these throughout the house. Each one costs approximately $20.00 at Home Depot or Lowes.

This is the stairwell underneath with the two high hats. The original oak staircase to the left will be sanded and finished with MINWAX.

John marked the center of the stringer to nail it later.

It took a full day to rip, cut, shim, level and install the pine treads and primed risers. (There is 3/4″ from riser to end of bullnose.)

The pine treads are not available primed; the primed risers are finger-jointed  (1x8x16).

We chose a pine route over oak because I plan to paint the treads and stencil the risers. Click here for one of my stenciling ideas.

John will cut 1×8 to cover the gaps on each side.





DIY: Making a Deep Windowsill

Yesterday, John made a shelf for the deep windowsill in the Grey Room.

He bought an 1x8x8 pine board at Home Depot. We were thinking of getting poplar because it’s a harder wood, until someone told us poplar is green, and doesn’t accept stain well.

John measured the windowsill and added 4 inches on each side (total length: 70 inches)…

Before starting, he made sure the end was square.

Holding the shelf with 4″ extending at each end and marking…

Cutting the notch out at each end with a circular saw…

Finishing the notch with a waffle saw to eliminate an over cut…

Perfect fit…

Extends 4 inches…

The 1x8x8 is now a 7 1/4-inch deep windowsill…

John glued and nailed (with finish nailer) the half round to the 1x8x8 to finish the exposed edge…

It’s necessary to condition pine before staining to eliminate a splotchy and uneven look. Without conditioner, pine does not accept stain at an even consistency.

John sanded the pine with 220 sandpaper before applying the wood conditioner.

After applying MINWAX wood conditioner, John applied three coats of natural MINWAX stain with a satin finish.

It looks great!