With the minimum of effort, you can bring amaryllis into bloom for the winter holidays. All it takes is water, light and about 6 weeks time.
For a winter holiday bloom, choose an African variety. Grown to blooming size in South Africa, they are then stored and shipped under controlled conditions. When removed from cold storage, the bulbs sprout quickly and flower in 4-6 weeks. For a guaranteed Christmas bloom, plant bulbs around November 15th.
Most Dutch and Ludwig varieties are dug and shipped from Holland in September. These will bloom 7-8 weeks after planting.
If you want to delay the flowering of any of these amaryllis until later in the winter or even until spring, wrap the bulbs in newspaper and store them in the refrigerator vegetable crisper at a temperature of around 40°F. 4-8 weeks before the target date (depending on the source of the bulbs) remove bulbs and plant them in containers.
For each bulb, choose a container that allows 2 inches between the bulb and the container sides. Fill containers with the soil mix; plant each bulb so its neck and top half protrude above the soil surface.
If one bulb makes an excellent display, then grouping several bulbs together is spectacular! Try planting three, even five amaryllis bulbs shoulder-to-shoulder in a broad decorative container. The pot doesn't need to be deep, as each bulb can produce several stems in succession, with each stem topped with four to six colorful flowers. This multi-bulb approach creates a pot dense with multiple stems in various stages of growth. There is also a practical advantage to planting multiple bulbs; broad-based pots are nice and stable!
Water thoroughly after planting; then give you just enough water to keep the soil barely moist, but not soggy, until active growth begins. Keep containers in a bright, warm room - 70-75°F during the day (60-65°F at night). Turn the containers frequently so flower stems will grow upright rather leaning toward the light source.
Each stem will produce four or more flowers. Once the flowers open, you can lengthen their lives if you move plants to a cooler location. As each bloom fades, snip it off to prevent seed formation. When all blooms on a stem have faded, cut off the entire stem about an inch from its base.
The show goes on! Don't assume the show is over after the first flower stem fades. Your bulb will probably produce a second stem with four more flowers. Sometimes a third stem pops up!
Be wary of tipping! Sometimes amaryllis plants become top-heavy and tippy. Here are a few techniques to keep your potted plant upright:
- Top dress by adding a little more soil (and weight.)
- Stake the plant by making a corral of sticks or branches, then securing the stems to these supports with a lasso of ribbon, string or colorful raffia.
- Double pot by placing the potted plant into a second heavier pot to provide additional stability.
AFTER INITIAL FLOWERING
Leaves appear either during or after bloom, then die back when weather cools in autumn. For good performance the following year, it's important to keep the plant growing vigorously until the foliage wither naturally - water regularly and give bi-monthly applications of liquid fertilizer Master Nursery's Master Bloom 2-10-10 diluted to half strength.
When the weather warms, you can move plants outdoors to a spot in filtered sun, or light shade leaving it in the pot or plant into the ground for a spring bloom.
There's nothing like a cheerful bloom to brighten the winter season! Come see our selection of amaryllis available in a variety of shapes and colors located on our bulb patio near the outside shop today!