Orchids and Amaryllis: Winter Decorating Tips


With the Christmas tree at the curb and the lights taken down, no wonder we get depressed.

In an effort to graciously close the holidays, but keep a joyful winter spirit, we asked two local experts, landscape architect Craig Bergmann, owner of Craig Bergmann Landscape Design and interior designer Paul Klug of Paul Klug Inc., for their tips to creating a lasting, beautiful winter tableau, indoors and out.

Get an orchid or twodecor-winter-lead

Bergmann and Klug use lots of orchids during and after the holidays, especially the white flowering plalaenopsis that is both wintery and elegant. (Well-budded plants with multiple flower stalks can last for months with a weekly watering.) It’s easy to add a personal touch to these orchids, now readily available and inexpensive.

  • Group three to five in a large cachepot or basket and surround them with deer moss in either a natural grey or chartreuse for added brightness.
  • Replace the generic metal or bamboo stakes with real twigs from your own yard, adding a personalized, homegrown aesthetic.
  • Two local sources they recommend are Orchids by Hausermann, Inc. in Addison for amazing variety and Pasquesi Home and Garden in Lake Bluff, which receives weekly shipments.

Force a bulb

Potted amaryllis, forced paper white narcissus, and hyacinths always look festive and have lasting appeal long after the holidays. Bergmann and Klug typically stagger the blooming times to ensure fresh, unusual blossoms all winter long.

  • Amaryllis flowers have a beautiful color spectrum including red, pink, coral and white, and hyacinth come in a virtual rainbow of colors.
  • Bulbs can be started in water or pots of soil and “primed” by placing them in a cool, not freezing, garage or porch (pre-cooled bulbs help to ensure blooms).
  • Their trade secret? A cocktail of sorts. After roots and first shoots appear, water bulbs with an inexpensive vodka or gin to shorten the growth and prevent floppy vegetation. The plants will look much more like they do when they bloom in the spring garden.

A fresh take on the fake 

While strong proponents of everything natural, when it comes to decorating in the house, these gents have no problem with artificial greens, as long as the quality is top notch.

  • Customize (and upgrade) your fakes with real pinecones and antique silk ribbon, and arrange in sleek modern pots or a favorite antique.
  • Iced, sparkly branches and white lights read more as winter than just holiday and can be kept up well into February. Just remove the ornaments, and the extra sparkle brightens a gloomy mid-Winter day.

Make a small gesture

A favorite winter tradition of Bergmann and Klug is the “tussie-mussie.” Named in Victorian England, it’s a small, compact fresh flower and foliage arrangement with fragrant, long-lasting elements.

  • Tussie-mussies are perfect for a treasured cup and saucer, silver mint julep cup, small trophy, even a small Indian brass basket or box with the lid ajar.
  • Boxwood and juniper make a nice foil for any flower you choose. Tiny papery-textured flowers like roses, statice, miniature cones and berries make ideal drying candidates. Sprigs of lavender from the garden or an old petrified rosebud can also take center stage.
  • Use your imagination, incorporating bits of costume jewelry, antique milliner’s fruit, anything that adds interest and personality to your bedside or end tables.