Of all flowering bulbs, Amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom. This can be accomplished indoors or out, and over an extended period of time. A popular indoor plant in the winter and spring, Amaryllis has become on of the most popular Holiday Gift Plants. The Amaryllis is a beautiful and fascinating flowering bulb and is extremely easy to grow and with a little extra care, it will be with you now and forever!
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The Pot: A sturdy clay pot that leaves 1 or 2 inches of space between the pot in the bulb is the perfect home for your Amaryllis. Leaving the bulb in a plastic pot is a mistake; a plastic pot is not porous and doesn't allow for proper drainage increasing the chances of 'bulb rot'. Your pot must have a drainage hole.
The Soil: Plant the bulb in a good, sterile planting medium. Amaryllis love well-drained soil. A common mistake that is often made, particularly when purchasing a cheap Amaryllis 'kit' is that the soil included is a cheap, heavy soil that remains sodden and eventually rots the bulb or grows healthy mold on top. Yuk!
The Bulb: Size and Quality matter. If you buy a cheap bulb, 'buyer beware'. Inspect your bulb and make sure that it has no rot or soft spots. You want to avoid a mushy, moldy or already sprouted bulb. Buy from a reputable grower and you won't be sorry.
Planting: If you can't plant your bulb immediately, store them in a cool temperature between 40 and 50 degrees. Keep them away from direct sunlight. When you are ready, make sure that you have everything you need at hand: the bulb, soil and a spot where the bulb will thrive. Pot the bulb so that the bulb's 'neck' is above the rim of the pot, and there is at least an inch from the top of the soil to the rim of the pot. Fan the roots out evenly and press soil down so there are no air pockets around the roots. Cover the roots with the soil and fill until the bulb is two-thirds covered with soil. Waer well with tepid water.
Placement: Once planted, placed the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees. Water sparingly until the stem appears, then, as the bud and leaves appear, gradually increase the amount of water. The stem will grow rapidly and flowers will develop after it has reached full growth.
Growth: The leaves may grow on either side of the main stem, or leaves may grow on one side of the bulbs neck with the stem on the other side. At the top of each main stem is a bud case which contains the flowers. This will enlarge and open, revealing flowers - at first the flowers are green and will develop their color over a period of days before the petals unfold.
Blooms: Each flower stem typically produces 3 to 4 blooms which open with in 2 to 3 days of each other. Once blossoms open, keeping the plant in a cool, shaded room will prolong the life of the bloom. A blooming amaryllis does NOT need to sit in a bright room or sunlight. Excessive heat and light will cause the bloom to wither. Blooms can last up to a week.
After Care: After the Amaryllis has stopped blooming, it can be made to flower again. Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem begins to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb. Continue to water and fertilize as normal all summer, or at least for 5-6 months allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, in early fall, cut the leave back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil. Clean the bulb and place in a cool, dark place (crisper of the refrigerator) for about 6 weeks. Do NOT store with apples. After 6 weeks, you may begin the cycle again and wait 8 weeks for the next blooming cycle.