Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is known for its enormous, showy single or double trumpet-shaped blooms. The flowers, which grow on single stalks, bloom in late winter to early spring in milder climates, such as Florida, but are often forced indoors around the holidays. Blooms are available in a vibrant reds, pinks or whites and may be striped or mottled. Most amaryllis plants are native to Holland or South Africa, but are easily available throughout the U.S.
Amaryllis flourishes in rich, organic soil that is preferably two parts loam to one part petrile and one part rotted manure. Any organic mix will work if manure is not available. Composted bark or wood or peat will work, as well. Pack soil tightly around the bulb for optimal growth results.
Plant amaryllis bulbs with one-half of the bulb remaining above the soil line. When planting, place the rounded side down and leave the pointed side exposed. If you are planting amaryllis in a pot, allow a minimum of two inches between the edge of the bulb and the edge of the pot. Water the flower well immediately after planting, but do not water again until roots are established, as amaryllis bulbs are prone to root rot. Amaryllis may be planted from October to April and will flower from late December to June.
Amaryllis does most of its growing immediately after flowering, but blooms are the result of cooler temperatures and drought-like conditions during which the bulb becomes dormant. Foliage grows well through the summer and should be amply watered. When the flower spike emerges, apply fertilizer every 10 days to encourage growth. It will take six to eight weeks from the time the flower bulb emerges until bloom. Amaryllis should be planted in an area that gets full sun in summer.
Potted amaryllis bulbs should be stored through the dormant period and may be re-used the following season. After the flowers have withered, cut the stem about two inches above the top of the bulb. The next few months, the plant's foliage will grow, but when it begins to die back in late summer, decrease watering schedule until the leaves turn yellow. When all of the foliage has died back, stop watering completely and store the bulb (still in the pot) in a dark area where temperatures will be between 50 to 55 degrees.