It’s the beginning of winter here in the north and nothing is blooming outside. The ground is covered in a layer of snow, the trees are bare and we’re all bundled up in our winter coats, boots, hats and mitts.
Don’t let winter get you down. There’s still plenty to grow indoors.
How about a large and vibrant tropical flower, that waits for winter before commencing its bloom?
The flower in question is Amaryllis. If you haven’t grown it before, my guide will show you how easy and maintenance free it can be.
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This post is part #1 of my Amaryllis series. Join me later in part #2 where I discuss getting your Amaryllis to reflower. There’s no need to discard the bulb after it finishes flowering. By following a few simple steps, it will happily rebloom for you, in one year’s time!
The Amaryllis originated in South America and South Africa. Amaryllis belladonna was brought to Europe and Britain by explorers in the mid-1600’s to 1800’s. Some hybridizing took place and overtime the Amaryllis that we know today was created. Today’s Amaryllis belongs to the genus Hippeastrum.
Today, many of the cultivars sold in stores and nurseries are Hippeastrum hybrids. There are many varieties available on the market in colours of white, pink, red, dark burgundy, bicolour and picotee. Hardy in the warmer hardiness zones of 9 to 11, it is grown as an indoor plant in the northern states and Canada.
Amaryllis resembles a large lily-shaped flower. In the 1700’s, it was labelled as a lily in many parts of the world, explaining many of the common names it holds today like, March Lily, Jersey Lily and Madonna Lily.
An Amaryllis typically produces two flower stems per bulb, bearing 3 to 6 blooms each. Some bulbs will produce up to 12 flowers, creating the most gorgeous display, right in the middle of winter.
Planted in a tight fitting pot, an Amaryllis bulb will generally produce two flower stalks and many long green strap-like leaves. Requiring little care after planting, an Amaryllis is a must for your indoor plant collection.
Amaryllis bulbs are sold as individual bulbs from a nursery or online seed company. Be sure to select a firm bulb, that displays no signs of mold. You want the bulb to look as healthy as possible. Alternatively, it may also be sold as a kit in a box. That box will provide everything you need to grow your Amaryllis. If you purchase your bulbs separately, you will need the following tools.
- Amaryllis bulb (when purchased from a nursery or seed company, it will be ready for planting and have gone through the required dormancy period)
- 6-inch pot (to fit the bulb snuggly, leaving a 1-inch gap between the bulb and the pot)
- Potting mix, peat, or amaryllis-specific bagged soil
- An amaryllis stake
- Moss, pebbles or colourful glass stones for soil decoration
- Pot saucer to catch any draining water
How to Plant your Amaryllis Bulb:
(These steps are the same ones you would follow, when planting an Amaryllis from a boxed kit.)
- Think about when you’d like your Amaryllis to bloom, then count back 6 to 8 weeks. Plant your bulbs at that time.
- Soak your Amaryllis bulb, to soften the roots. Although they look dry, they are dormant and shouldn’t be trimmed.
- Fill your pot with soil, 2/3 of the way up.
- Push aside enough soil in the pot, to make room for the bulb and it’s roots.
- Gently place the bulb in the soil, being careful not to damage it or bury it. Only plant the bulb up to its shoulder height, leaving the top 1/3 of the bulb exposed.
- Place the potted Amaryllis in a sink or bowl filled with water and leave it to absorb for at least 1 to 2 hours, or until the soil seems moist, but not sopping wet.
- Lift the pot occasionally to test for moisture level. If it feels heavy, it’s watered. If it feels light, set it back in the water until it’s fully moistened.
It’s best to water from below, as opposed to at the soil line. By doing so, you will protect the bulb from bacterial fungus or rot.
After Planting Instructions:
- Set your potted Amaryllis bulbs in a bright location, out of direct sunlight.
- Water once a week, until the flower stalk develops and blooms.
- Once your Amaryllis begins to bloom, water it more frequently.
- Use a flower stake to support the weight of the flower stalk. The heavy weight may cause the stem to bend and break. You may use flower stakes, bamboo stakes or branches found outdoors. Feel free to be creative in beautifying your Amaryllis planter.
- Remove any spent flowers, to redirect energy back to the bulb. Simply clip them at the end of each flower stem, and directly above the stalk. Any spent blooms left on the plant will cause the flower to develop seed, thereby starving the bulb of its needed nutrients.
If you’d like to prolong the blooming period of your Amaryllis flowers, remove the anthers from each flower after they open. If left on the flower, the plant will redirect its energy into producing seed and the flower’s blooming period will be greatly reduced.
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What to do after your Amaryllis has finished blooming?
After your Amaryllis has completed its blooming period and the flower stalks have turned yellow, cut them off approximately 1/2 of an inch above the top of the bulb. Keep the leaves intact and don’t cut them until after they’ve turned brown. By keeping the leaves on the plant, the bulb will continue to collect carbohydrates from the sun to feed the bulb and build nutrients for next year’s blooms.
After all risk of frost has passed, your Amaryllis plant may be taken outside to a shady or morning sun location and either left in the pot or planted in the ground. Be sure to label where you planted it, in case it gets misplaced through the season.
If you’d like your Amaryllis to rebloom, stay tuned for part #2 of this series, where I walk you through the necessary steps required to produce new blooms. It’s fairly simple and definitely worth trying, as your Amaryllis bulb will grow bigger and possibly produce larger and more blooms in the following years.
Here are the tools that I mentioned in the post.