The One Indoor Plant Even Novices Can Impress With This Holiday Season

Got visitors coming over for the holidays and wish you could impress them with a few nurtured, thriving indoor plants but you're still in the undergraduate class of "numb thumbs?" Numb thumb, says Northeast Earth Coalition, is a rebranding phrase used for those of us who are studying the ways of the green-thumb elite but have yet to hit our stride. However, one way we can look a little more gardener guru with visiting friends and family this holiday season is a candy cane waxed amaryllis (Hippeastrum).

Although amaryllises are perennials that you can feature in your garden or have potted indoors, a waxed amaryllis is a blooming bulb that has been dipped in heated wax. That heat treatment stimulates the bulb out of dormancy. The bulb is then self-sustaining, since all the water and nutrients have been encased in the wax. Once you bring your waxed bulb home, you simply place it somewhere protected and warm, and four to eight weeks later — bloom! No watering or worrying or wondering needed.

If you decide to up your gardening game and ring in the holidays this season with a waxed amaryllis, here are a few incidentals to keep in mind.

Where to find them and what to expect

Once November arrives, orders for the festive flower begin to pick up. Holland Bulb Farms, for example, starts shipping its candy cane waxed amaryllis bulbs in mid-November. If your waxed bulb arrives with no buds, then your amaryllis will likely bloom in a month or two, according to Bloomaker. If you do see a little budding, your amaryllis is likely to flower as early as a week or so. Once the buds open and bloom, your amaryllis should stay looking fresh for several weeks to a month.

You can order your wax bulb amaryllis online or check with your local nursery as well for availability of the candy cane variety, although plenty of amaryllis blooms look festive for the holidays. The Picotee amaryllis has white petals tinged in red, making it perfect for holiday cheer, and the Ferrari amaryllis with its full, rich red flower fits the season as well.

To get the most out of your waxed amaryllis, set the bulb on a flat surface where it will stay warm and in a bright room that gets a good amount of indirect sunlight. If you see the sprout from the bulb begin to lean in one direction, rotate the bulb every few days. This should keep the stem growth shooting up straight. Be sure to keep the bulb warm — too cold or freezing temps are very harmful for the bulb. Once you see a bloom, keep your amaryllis out of direct sunlight to protect its petals from sunburn.

Can the waxed bulb amaryllis be planted after its holiday bloom?

If you were hoping to plant your bulb after you've showcased it for the holidays, its chances for survival are not great. However, My Garden Life says you can give it a shot by gently removing the wax around the bulb. It's best to do this immediately after the amaryllis bloom has died off.

After carefully prying the wax off your bulb, Homegrown Fun recommends you cut down the flower stem to about 2 inches. Don't worry if your bulb shows no sign of new roots — that's to be expected and is temporary. However, if the bulb itself is squishy to the touch, that may be a sign of defeat. If you have a firm bulb, there's a good chance you can save this amaryllis.

Plant it in a container just a few inches wider than the bulb, since amaryllis like a snug fit and actually do well when multiple bulbs are planted in one pot. Use well-draining soil and plant the bulb so its upper half is exposed above the soil. Set it in a warm, bright spot and water only sparingly, keeping the soil barely damp.