The term ‘Christmas Flower’ generally brings to mind an image of a red or cream colored Poinsettia. However, more recently the Amaryllis has been working to give the poinsettia a run for its money. A tall, straight stemmed, lily like bulb with brilliant shades ranging from white to deep red (as well as some stunning striped varieties) the Amaryllis is a delightful flower to grow during Christmas time and throughout the cold winter months when life is altogether void of beautiful vegetation.
Amaryllis bloom naturally during the cold winter months, but many people ‘force’ their bulbs to bloom around Christmas time. Blossoms will last 7-10 weeks and a bulb can last many years if stored properly.
After purchasing an Amaryllis bulb complete the following directions.
- Plant the bulb in a 5-8 inch pot (the bulb should have about 2 inches of space around all sides. No blossoms will mature if the pot is too big) using well draining soil. Leave approximately 1/3 of the top of the bulb showing above the surface.
- Add water until the soil is moist but not soggy. Do not overwater.
- Keep Amaryllis in a warm location (70-75) with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
- Rotate the pot every few days to distribute light evenly and encourage the stem to grow straight.
- Water on a regular basis throughout the flowering period. Keep soil moist but not soggy.
- Feed the bulb a half strength water soluble fertilizer ever 2-3 weeks.
- When blossoms begin to fade, remove the flower stem just above the bulb (let the foliage continue to grow as long as it can) and continue to water. Plant outdoors in the spring and fertilize throughout the summer. After the first frost, dig up the bulb and store in a cool dark place for at least 8 weeks.
- Repot the bulb and the new cycle will begin.
To force an amaryllis into bloom at Christmas time, stop watering and store in a cool dark place at the end of September or the first of October. Lack of water will encourage the bulb to send out a new flower stalk. At this time, replant in a pot with new, fresh soil and begin watering.