We Love Amaryllis!

We Love Amaryllis!

It’s always exciting when the huge, premium amaryllis bulbs come into the store. These plants, commonly called amaryllis but in the genus Hippeastrum, are a favorite for growing indoors because of their huge, colorful flowers. They are also quite easy to grow! Here are 10 tips for growing amaryllis, along with suggestions for supporting heavy blooms and keeping the plants from year to year.

  1. The large, premium bulbs that come into the garden center in October produce the biggest blooms and have the widest selection of colors. Some are singles and others doubles.
These premium bulbs come in an assortment of colors and sizes.

2. If you are buying a bulb in the fall or early winter, you can plant it right away. Place it in a heavy clay pot that is about two inches larger than the fattest part of the bulb, and use fresh potting soil. Clay pots are better for these bulbs because they breath and are weighty enough to help support the top-heavy flowers. Only bury the bottom half of the bulb. Leaving the top uncovered helps ensure that the bulb doesn’t rot if the plant gets watered too often. Do not plant in a pot without a drainage hole, and don’t cover that opening in the pot. Good drainage is important. (Note: do not put rocks in the bottom of the pot – that is an old myth and it’s a practice that’s bad for plants.)

3. If you don’t want to keep your amaryllis beyond this year, you can place the bottom of the bulb in a shallow dish of pebbles and water. The roots will stay moist in the pebbles but the bulb will be above the water. Don’t use this method if you want to save the bulb from year to year.

Part of the joy of growing an amaryllis bulb is watching the process. From dormant bulb to flower shoot, and on to the lovely flower, you’ll get many weeks of enjoyment from this plant.

4. Place your potted amaryllis in a warm location, preferably in a bright window. These plants will flower if they aren’t in a window, but the stems will be longer and more apt to fall over or break unless they are supported. (Even in a window amaryllis can grow so tall that support is needed. See our suggestions below.)

5. Water your potted amaryllis well so that the entire pot of soil is moistened, letting the excess water drain out into a saucer or tray. If there is still water in the saucer after an hour or two, soak it up with an old towel or lift the pot and pour the water out.

Watching the flowers develop and open is part of the fun when growing amaryllis.

6. No need to fertilize while your amaryllis are flowering. This should be done later toward the end of winter and while the plant is outdoors in the summertime.

7. Amaryllis flowers are large and heavy. Plan to put a support in place before the flower opens fully. Since there are often several flowers on one stem, staking them early is a good idea. You can use a slender bamboo cane or even a strong branch cut from your garden. If you grow red-twig dogwood, these stems make pretty supports.

I made a natural support of red-twig dogwood branches for the plant on the left. This was constructed by twisting the freshly cut branches around and fastening them to the stems with small pieces of craft wire. The plant in the center was supported by three single red stems fastened at the top. A thin ribbon was then used to hold the flower stems inside the branches.
These very tall stems were supported with a single stake, one with twine and another using a twist-em. (Normally, I like the look of ribbon better, but sometimes we have to use what’s close at hand.)

8. After the flower fades, cut the stem off a few inches above the bulb. Keep the plant in a sunny window, watering well when needed but letting the soil dry out between waterings. In February or March begin to fertilize with a general product made for houseplants. (We like Maxsea!)

9. If you want to keep your bulb for next year, place the pot outside in a part-sun location in May, and water when dry. Fertilize monthly or apply a time-release fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Shake N’ Feed in May and in August.

10. In October, bring your amaryllis into a cool place such as an unheated garage and don’t water for four or five weeks. After that resting period, cut off the dried or wilted leaves and bring the bulb back indoors to begin the bloom cycle again.

Premium bulbs produce spectacular flowers!

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