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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Forcing the Adored Amaryllis for the Holiday Season

Amaryllis bulbs are commonplace in decorating for the holiday because of their bold, grand, exquisite presences drawing you across the room for a closer look. My experience in growing these show stopping flowers began in the research greenhouse at the University of Illinois. I was t in charge of growing amaryllis flowers for Diane Noland's topiary lesson. The lesson was always one of the last lessons for the semester and be close to the holidays. Each year after cutting my prized stems, the leaves would start to form and I would fertilize and grow as I did my other tropical in the greenhouse. Then in the early summer, I would force them to go dormant by laying the pots on their side in a dark location withholding water and removing leaves as they turned yellow In the fall 6-8 weeks before before the lesson, I would repot and begin to water. Most bulbs you buy in the garden center during October and November are ready to flower and have already experienced dormancy. Some are already in pot and will be closer to blooming.

Planting New

  1. Place bulb in pot about one or two inches wider than the bulb in soilless media found in the garden center. Can plant three in pot for greater display. Buy bigger, firm, healthy looking bulbs.
  2. The lower half of the bulb and any roots that may have already formed should be below the soil line and water until it comes out the drainage holes
  3. Place in sunny warm location
  4. Water sparingly
  5. Turn plant daily as soon as flowering stalk has emerged from the bulb
  6. When in bloom, place in cooler location out of direct sun so that it will bloom longer

Reblooming from Houseplant

  1. Once flowers fade remove flowering scape
  2. Allow foliage to grow and treat like other houseplants, placing outside when temperatures warm. Let the soil dry between waterings and fertilizer regularly.
  3. The bulb will need to go through a resting period for approximately eight to twelve weeks before it can be forced to bloom again.
  4. The bulb will need to resume growing for 4-8 weeks before you will have your show stopping flower display. For a December first class, I had to resume growth in early to mid-October.

Go out and buy your bulbs, soilless media and pots now for an easy to grow and brilliant holiday décor sure to light up a room.