Growing Amaryllis

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Flowering bulbs are fairly straightforward, so that even the most novice of gardeners can handle them. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in root-side down, and cover with soil. Then wait until spring. It doesn’t get any easier than that. But when it comes to potted bulbs, like amaryllis, people suddenly get nervous. Don’t be. Amaryllis are incredibly simple to grow and require little effort, but provide a big payoff.

Like poinsettias, amaryllis is flower that is popular around the Christmas season. However, unlike poinsettias, the amaryllis can be forced to bloom year after year for literally decades. If you want your bulb to bloom in time for the holidays, you’re going to want to plant it in early to mid-November.

All it needs is a good, heavy pot that won’t tip over (as the amaryllis flower makes it top-heavy) and some potting soil. You can also use a jar with glass or stone on the bottom with a bit of water. Pack the soil around the bulb so that
about a third of the bulb is above the soil line. Then put it somewhere that it will get bright, indirect light, give it a sparing amount of water and wait.

When you have two inches of new growth, start to give it water on a regular basis. Turn the pot regularly so that stalks grow straight, rather than towards the window. Then enjoy the show!

Once the flowers start to fade, carefully snip them off. After all the flowers are gone, cut back the stem back to within a couple inches of the bulb, but leave the leaves alone, since they are still producing energy for the plant. When spring arrives and the weather in consistently warm in May to early June, you can put the amaryllis outside, where it will produce more leaves.

In the middle of August, start holding the water back until the pot dries out completely and the foliage dies back. At this point, store the bulb somewhere dark and cool for at least eight weeks, although longer is better.

Then, in late October or early November, you start the blooming process again. With a little care, you could have the same amaryllis for the rest of your life!

All that said, amaryllis are not expensive and K&B True Value carries the bulbs every year. They make a great hostess or teacher gift, as well, and are much more elegant than poinsettias, which are big, bulky, and finicky.

Who knows…after a year or two, you might feel comfortable enough propagating the small bulblets that form around the mother amaryllis bulb at the end of the season!

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Guest November 26, 2020