AMARYLLIS (BOTANICAL NAME HIPPEASTRUM)

When you purchase an Amaryllis bulb, whether sold as a bare bulb or potted, the seller has put the bulb through a dormant period in cooler temperatures.  This dormant period forces the bulb to bloom.  Whether you purchase an already potted bulb or a bare bulb, below are some helpful hints to plant; care for; and ensure the health or your Amaryllis.

PLANTING A NEW AMARYLLIS BULB

1. Choose a bulb that’s plump, firm, and has plenty of healthy tan colored roots at the base.

2. Soak the roots in room temperature water for a couple of hours to hydrate and soften them. Otherwise, they may snap and break off when planted in soil.

3. Make sure the pot you chose is just large enough for the bulb. The bulb needs to be pot-bound to bloom. A pot with a diameter 1” - 2” larger than that of the bulb is perfect.

4. Make certain the bottom of the pot has adequate drainage. Place ½” to 1” of gravel in the bottom of the pot. This will keep the roots moist, but not soggy… preventing rot.




5. Partially fill the pot with well-draining potting mix and plant the bulb so the top third of it will be exposed. Fill in potting soil around the bulb.




6. Water well. I prefer watering from the bottom. Place the pot in a bowl of water and let the soil absorb what it needs. This will prevent over watering which may cause the bulb to rot.

7. Place the bulb in bright, indirect light at approximately 70 degrees. Do not water the bulb again until the first signs of growth appear (the flower buds).

8. A thick flower stalk(s) should shoot up within a few weeks. Flat leaves will follow as the flower stalk matures.




9. When the plant begins to flower, move it away from direct sunlight. This will prolong the blooms.


10. Feed your Amaryllis with a half strength water-soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.


AFTER BLOOM

1. When the flowers die, cut off the flower stalk, but allow the leaves to grow. Treat the bulb like any other houseplant. Place the bulb in a sunny location. If you like, you can place your plant outdoors, in partial shade, for the summer. The leaf growth and sunlight will send nutrients to the bulb so it can bloom again.

2. Keep watering.  The soil should be moist, but not wet.

3. Stop feeding the Amaryllis in August.


CREATING A DORMANT PERIOD TO FORCE ANOTHER BLOOM

1. In order for the Amaryllis to bloom the next year, you must simulate its life cycle. Part of this cycle includes forcing the bulb into dormancy. In September or October, move your Amaryllis to a cool (55 to 60 degrees), dark, dry location and stop watering it for two months. The foliage will die back. Cut off the leaves only after they have died off. The lack of foliage and water will induce the amaryllis to send out another flower stalk.

2. After two months of dormancy, replace the top inch of soil with new soil. The cycle starts again… move the plant to a warm, sunny spot and resume watering. Flowers and leaves will follow shortly.

3. When the flowers fade, start the process over.


GENERAL CARE AND GROWING TIPS FOR AMARYLLIS

• As your Amaryllis bulb gets larger, you will need to increase the size of the pot. Just make certain the pot is no more than 1” - 2” inches (in diameter) larger than the bulb.

• Amaryllis bulbs will produce side bulbs (offspring), like daffodils. Carefully remove these bulbils and pot them as you would a large bulb. These bulbils will need a few seasons of growth before you see flowers.

• If your Amaryllis won’t go dormant, remove the remaining leaves and repot.

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All images and content copyright Jeffrey Schneider of JAMES Modern Terrariums 2009.