The Great Amaryllis Growing Contest—My Family’s Christmas Tradition

This festive family event blossomed into a full-grown contest over the years.

Amaryllis growing: In bloomPhoto: John Wagemakers

It’s Tradition: My Family’s Amaryllis Growing Contest

With our family being of Dutch descent, we’ve always enjoyed spending time in our yards and growing flowers throughout the summer. We try to extend the growing season by enjoying flowering houseplants during the winter months. One ideal winter plant is the amaryllis, so our family took on growing this bulb as an annual Christmas growing contest tradition.

Check out these great indoor gardening tips to get you through the winter.

Amaryllis growing: the bulbPhoto: John Wagemakers

The Roots of the Amaryllis Growing Contest

This family event officially began in 2012 and my mother, her four children and up to four grandchildren participated. Every year begins with me inviting all past growers and family members who haven’t had a chance at participating to enter. I suggest where certain bulbs can be found with approximate prices, and the date that the bulbs are to be planted. After the planting, there are no holds barred—the winner is the one who has the first opened flower.

This is what Christmas looked like 100 years ago!

Amaryllis growing contest: Full bloomPhoto: John Wagemakers

Naming the Winner

The event usually starts in late October, with the searching for and buying of bulbs. We begin planting in mid-November and the first flower is usually reported in mid-December. With our family residing in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Albert and the Yukon, we use email to share growing tips and pictures of our entires. As soon as we hear word that a flower has opened by one of the competitors (we tend to send a picture for proof), the contest ends.

The winner from the previous year purchases a small token prize, such as fridge magnets with a flower design, a bouquet of flowers or lottery tickets, and presents it to the current year’s winner, who enjoys the status of “Best Flower of the Year” award. Our 2017 reigning champion is Pam Wagemakers and our family member who’s tallied the most wins, 2013 and 2016, is none other than my mom, Tonny (above, mom’s winning flower in 2016). I, on the other hand, have only won once, in 2012, but winner or not, everyone genuinely enjoys having their own amaryllis flower over the Christmas season.

Find out what a country Christmas was like in the 1950s.

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