Only the Poinsettia is more attached to the holidays than the Amaryllis. Forcing these beautiful flowers into bloom yourself is not hard to do and provides great satisfaction.
Also known by its latin name 'Hippeastrum', these flowering plants originally came from South America. Most varieties feature large flowers and solid colours, but many new varieties are multi-coloured like the pink and white combinations.
Choosing a Bulb
Size does matter! The larger the Amaryllis bulb, the more flowers it will produce. Buy bulbs that are nice and heavy.
Amaryllis are purchased as a large bulb.They can be planted anytime between Fall and early spring, but they are best planted in October, November or even December if you want to have them blooming in time for the holidays.
Their flowers are long lasting, sometimes blooming well into May.
Use a good sized pot with a drainage hole, preferably one that is somewhat wider than the bulb. You should be able to place your finger between the bulb and the side of the pot. Fill the pot about half way with good potting soil.
Place the bulb in lukewarm water for a couple of hours. This will encourage the development of roots.
When handling the bulb, avoid damahing its roots. Place the bulb into the pot, and then continue adding soil, partially covering the bulb. You should be able to see at least half the bulb above the level of the soil surface. After planting, tamp down the soil firmly.
The most important factor when growing Amaryllis is warmth. For this reason, place the plant in a warm sunlit space such as a windowsill. Don't water too much until you see the stem begin to appear and elongate. As soon as the bud leaves appear, the Amaryllis will require more and more water everyday.
Once the stem has grown upwards, flowering will begin. It normally takes 6-10 weeks for a potted bulb to flower. For added enjoyment, buy several Amaryllis and plant them several weeks apart. This will create a succession of beautiful blooms in your home.
Follow Up Care
Once the Amaryllis has finished flowering, cut away or remove the spent blooms. This will redirect the plants energy away from seed production and into preserving the remaining flowers for a longer time. Allow the leaves to grow and develop. Water regularly and apply a houseplant fertilizer.
In late summer, stop all watering. In early fall, trim foliage from the bulb and place the bulb, pot and all in a cool, dry place that is frost free. In several weeks, begin the cycle again.
Art's Nursery carries a nice selection of old classic Amaryllis varieties as well as exciting new ones. This year's line up includes: