Amaryllis for Winter Beauty
The amaryllis is well loved for its ability to produce huge blooms
indoors in the middle of winter. It is often used as a holiday plant,
with the bulbs being available for purchase in late fall.
Selecting and Caring for the Amaryllis Bulb
When buying a bulb, select one that is at least 2 1/2 inches in
diameter. Smaller bulbs will not bloom. Larger bulbs (4 inches)
produce better, often developing two flower stalks instead of one.
Make sure the bulbs are firm and free of soft spots and discoloration.
Plant the bulbs in a container that has drainage holes. The container
should be about two inches bigger in diameter than the bulb. The
planting mix should drain well; an equal mix of peat and perlite
would be suitable. Plant so that about one third of the bulb shows
above the soil level. After planting, the planting mix should be
thoroughly watered. Keep the mix consistently moist. The mix should
not be saturated. Do not water over the nose of the bulb. If water
seeps into the bulb, it may cause it to rot.
Keep the bulb in a warm room (70-75�F) during rooting and early
stalk development. As the flower buds begin to form, reduce temperatures
to about 65�F to prolong flowering. The bulb should be kept in a
well-lighted area. During flowering, the plant is best kept in bright,
but indirect light. This will help prolong flowering.
During stalk development, fertilize with a complete fertilizer
(one that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). A liquid
fertilizer is easiest to apply since the plant is in a small quantity
of potting mix. Follow the label directions that come with the fertilizer
you buy. The directions will tell you how much to use. Fertilize
about every 2-3 weeks.
With proper care, the plant should be flowering within 6-8 weeks
after planting the bulb. Duration of the flowers will be dependent
on the temperature and light level in the room where the plant is
being kept. As each flower fades, cut it off, so that the plant
does not waste energy trying to produce seeds. After all the flowers
have faded, remove the entire flower stalk. Do not remove the leaves.
They will produce food and strengthen the bulb so that it can flower
again next year.
The plant can now be treated like any other houseplant. As warm
weather returns, the plant can be placed outdoors. The key to success
with the amaryllis is to keep the foliage alive so that it will
feed the bulb.
Reflowering the Bulb
In late summer, gradually reduce watering so that the leaves die
down. When the leaves have died completely, cut them off. Store
the bulb, in its container, in an area with temperatures around
50�F for 8-10 weeks. After the 8-10 weeks have elapsed, bring the
bulb into a warm room with good light and resume watering. Follow
the growing directions described above under "Selecting and
Caring for the Amaryllis Bulb".
October - November 2001: Preparing
Plants for Winter | Heating with Wood Needs
Care and Consideration | Amaryllis for
Winter Beauty | Understanding Fall Color