Amaryllis are large, flowering bulbs most popular for blooming in winter, and making a great gift for the holidays. Here’s how to pot, grow, and store your Amaryllis bulbs year after year.
What Is Amaryllis?
Amaryllis like tropical climates, and are native to South and Central America. Bulbs range from 2-5 inches in diameter, and each bulb can produce 1-2 ft. long stems that will yield 2-12 trumpet-shaped flowers with large, triangular petals. Blooms may last for several weeks, and colors range from white, red, orange, salmon, pink and peach to deeper hues of burgundy and purple. Variegated and striped blooms are also popular.
Potting and Caring for Amaryllis
Un-potted, dormant bulbs should be stored in a cool (55 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, dry location. Before planting, the bulbs should be brought to room temperature, and the roots can be lightly rehydrated in lukewarm water for an hour or two before planting, but the base of the bulb itself should be kept dry to minimize the risk of rot. While these bulbs will bloom in water – they’re often sold in clear, decorative vases with the roots reaching into water and pebbles used as a planting medium – they will do better when properly planted, which will also encourage re-blooming.
The best pot for a single Amaryllis bulb will be just an inch wider than the bulb’s diameter, or several bulbs can be planted together in a larger pot for a more dramatic display. Because these flowers grow so tall, however, the pot should be heavy enough to support their size.
Rich potting soil is essential for the best blooms, as these bulbs grow vigorously and require adequate nutrition to reach their full potential. When planting a bulb, it should be submerged in the soil up to its neck, but leaving the top quarter of the bulb uncovered. The soil should be tamped firmly to support the bulb. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot when foliage emerges, and rotate the pot daily as the plant grows taller to ensure straight, upright growth that will better support heavy flowers.
Gently water the bulb until the first stems appear, but take care not to overwater the pot or the bulb and roots may rot. As the plant grows taller and the blooms emerge, more watering will be needed to keep it adequately moisturized.
It may take 7-12 weeks for an Amaryllis to bloom, depending on the type and size of bulb, its growing conditions and the care it receives. Larger bulbs that produce more flowers will generally take longer to bloom, while smaller bulbs will have shorter flowers but will bloom more quickly.
After the Bloom
Many people discard Amaryllis bulbs after they have stopped blooming, but it’s possible to encourage re-blooming with the proper care.
After the flowers have faded, deadhead the blooms but leave the foliage intact. Sharp flower-pruning shears are best to avoid tearing the stem or causing it to bend or break. Your Amaryllis should be placed in the sunniest spot available, continue to water as necessary and monthly feeding should ensue. This will encourage leaf production which with photosynthesize adding nourishment to the bulb enabling it to produce flowers again next winter. Move the plant outside once all danger of frost has passed to a sunny location. Continue to water and begin fertilizing every other week.
If you want to control when your Amaryllis blooms again, you will need to encourage the bulb to go dormant. This is done by stopping fertilization, allowing the soil to gradually dry out, and reducing sunlight and temperature so leaf production slows and eventually stops. The dormant period will generally last 8-10 weeks, so, if you would like your Amaryllis to bloom for Christmas, mid-August is the time to begin this process. When leaves brown naturally, cut them back, remove the bulb from the dry soil, wrap it in newspaper and store it at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 weeks. After this dormant period, repot the bulb in fresh soil and begin watering again. The bulb will start to produce leaves and flowers won’t be far behind.
With the proper conditions and care, you can keep your Amaryllis blooming for years to come. These are currently in stock in our Garden Store.