One of our favorites for dependable holiday bloom indoors is the amaryllis. You can usually find the bulbs on your garden center’s shelves or in catalogs beginning in mid-September through February. And nothing could be easier to grow than amyrillis.
The amaryllis, being a sun lover, will grow best in a sunny window that gets at least 6 hours of good light every day. They like warm temperatures, around 70-75 F, which means they will be happy in the average home. Once flowering begins, moving your amaryllis to a slightly cooler location, about 65 F, will help to make the flowers last longer.
Your amaryllis bulb is a big ugly thing that somewhat resembles an onion. If your bulb is loose, rather than preplanted in a pot or container, the first thing you’ll want to do is locate a pot or container that’s about an inch or two larger in diameter than the base of the bulb. Clay or plastic will work but make sure it has a hole in the bottom for drainage.
Plant the amaryllis so that one-third to one-half of the bulb is above the soil or growing medium. This ensures that the bulb’s nose stays dry which helps prevent fungal infections. Use any good potting soil to grow your amaryllis.
Water immediately once you plant your amaryllis bulb. Keep the soil slightly moist, but not overly wet. When flowering starts, increase the frequency of watering. Water when the soil surface feels dry, usually once a week.
Do not fertilize the plant while it has no leaves. This is important to remember since the bulb generally will send up the flowering stalk before it does much in the way of leaf development. Fertilizing too soon will kill the roots… and that means no flowers. Once leaves begin to develop, fertilize twice a month using a soluble fertilizer recommended for indoor potted plants.
Remove the blossoms as soon as they fade to prevent seed formation, which would simply weaken the bulb. Do this by cutting the stem off just above the bulb. Do not remove any leaves. Make sure you keep your amaryllis in a sunny window now and water and fertilize it regularly. This is the active growth stage of your bulb and proper care now will give you a bigger bulb (and more flowers) next season.
It’s easy to bring your amaryllis bulb into flower again next season. First of all, decide when you want it to bloom. Then count backwards about eight to ten weeks. That’s when you will stop watering and fertilizing the bulb. Yes, it will seem to die but don’t worry, it’s simply taking a rest.
The leaves will turn yellow and wither but don’t be alarmed. At this point, when the leaves are dead, if your bulb seems to have grown so that it’s pressing against the sides of its pot, you can replant it into something larger.
You will notice the first signs of new growth beginning after an eight to ten week dormant period. When you see the top of the new flower bud beginning to emerge from the bulb, carefully trim off all the dead or yellowed leaves and repot it, if it seems too crowded. Then move the pot to a sunny area and start watering it again. Remember, no fertilizer until it has leaves!
Rotate the plant every few days so the flower stalk doesn’t lean towards the light too much. You will be rewarded with flowers very near the date you planned.
And that’s all there is to bringing your lovely amaryllis bulb into bloom for a second season!