I’m always on the hunt for quick gift ideas that are frugal, often recyclable, and don’t add clutter to the receiver’s home. Forcing flowering bulbs in glass vases fits my requirements. I can put together this gift for about $10 to $15 depending on how much I choose to spend on the bulbs. Your receiver will love the flowers in the dead of winter, plus the promise of more flowers the following spring.
- glass vase about 4 to 6 inches across
- Paperwhite bulbs – don’t need chilling for forcing inside the home
- Hyacinth Bulbs
- Amaryllis Bulbs
- Bag of rocks or glass stones
Finding Bulbs, Stones, and Vases
Thrifts stores are the best place to find glass vases. I found my glass containers at the Impact Thrift Store for $2 each. You can also find glass vases in the Dollar Tree in the flower arrangement section.
I found large black smooth stones at the Dollar Tree, giving me enough stones for 2 vases. Add some sparkle with glass stones, also found at the Dollar Tree, or go with smaller, natural stones from Ikea (about $2.50). If you have tons of small stones in your yard, wash them well before using to prevent any little critters from making an appearance later.
Home Depot and Lowes sell packs of paperwhite and hyacinth bulbs. I picked up a pack of 8 hyacinth bulbs and one of 8 paperwhites, both for $6.98. Amaryllis bulbs are harder to find at a similar price. I would check a locally-run gardening center to see if they sell bulbs in bulk. I found my Amaryllis bulbs at Longwood Gardens for $18.99 which is a bit steep. However, when taken care of properly, Amaryllis bulbs will continue to bloom year after year.
Other Ideas for Bulb Containers
- White soup bowl deep enough to hold rocks and a bulb
- Tea cup or mug
- Shallow, wide bowl
Taking Care of the Bulbs after the Holidays
When the bulbs have finished blooming, allow them to die back and then let the bulbs dry in a cool place. Hyacinth and paperwhites can be planted outside in the spring once the ground has warmed up enough. They may need a year to return to their natural blooming schedule.
Amaryllis can be forced to re-bloom the following winter if you take care of them properly. Cut the flower stalk off to allow the bulb to rest. Replant the bulb in a pot with soil to give it additional nutrients. While the plant is indoors, fertilize it every 2 to 3 weeks and water twice a week. During the summer, put the amaryllis outdoors in a shady location and keep an eye on it to prevent the leaves from burning.
In early fall, slowly reduce the amount of water the amaryllis bulb receives each week. If the leaves brown, cut them off. Bring the plant inside once the outdoor temperatures start dropping below 55 degrees and resume weekly watering. Don’t put the plant in a cool spot since it’s a tropical bulb; don’t excessively water the plant since this may rot the bulb.
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