I am so excited! My favorite Christmas plant, the Amaryllis, is in full bloom today. I love the showy, bright red flowers that I display throughout my home during the holidays. I planted today’s bloom in mid-October and later — four more — two weeks apart, that will be ready Christmas week. They are easy to grow, and I love most because after my indoor flowers die, I save all my bulbs.
I received my first Amaryllis as a Christmas gift, enjoyed it for several months, and then tossed it. I no longer do that. I save the bulbs and plant them in a sunny spot in my garden after April 20th. I have had Amaryllis appear every May for the last five years and have read they will bloom for many more with the proper care. Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is a popular bulb flower for growing indoors during cold months of the year. It produces large, showy blooms with rich and vibrant colors. It is also one of the easiest flowering bulbs to force into bloom.
Amaryllis can be purchased in local nurseries, big box stores, and online. They are generally available in early October to plant indoors for the holidays/winter season. They come in a variety of colors — white, pink, red, coral, and even stripes. They make wonderful gifts for friends and family. You can buy the bulbs in a kit, which has everything you’ll need — container, soil, and bulb, or you can purchase bare-root bulbs. When you buy your kits or single bulbs, be sure to buy the Hippeastrum species. Hippeastrum is a genus in the family Amaryllidaceae with 70-75 species and 600 plus hybrids and cultivars.
POTTING THE BULBS
Plant bulbs in a well-drained potting mix. Fill the pot about half full of potting mix, set the bulb on top of the mixture, and fill in around the bulb with additional mix. Adjust the (position of the bulb as needed so that the top third of the bulb is exposed. The mix’s final level should be about 1/2” below the rim of the pot to allow for watering. Firm the mix and water lightly to settle it around the bulbs.
PRE-BLOOM CARE OF AMARYLLIS
♦ Place the pot where the temperature stays above 60 F. The warmer the temperature, the faster the bulb will sprout and grow. Water only when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to touch. Watering more often could lead to root rot. Growth generally starts in 2 to 8 weeks. Provide ample sunshine as soon as the bulb sprouts. Rotate the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning towards the light. Flower stalks may need supports to keep from toppling.
GROWING AMARYLLIS OUTDOORS
Though we are most familiar with Amaryllis as an indoor holiday plant, many gardeners in the South have luck with them surviving and thriving in a garden setting. It is a perennial in zones nine and above, but some hardy Amaryllis bulb hybrids can survive in our zone 7b. I have grown them and am always thrilled when they bloom in early May. I plan to buy more Amaryllis this fall and start the plants to give gifts and myself. After flowering, I will save the bulbs and plant them in my garden this spring.