The amaryllis (Amaryllis hippeastrum) is a bulbous plant that is commonly grown indoors during the winter season and grows to maturity in as little as six to eight weeks. It is well-liked as an indoor plant because of its short growing time and bright colorful blooms. It is often seen around the holidays where it is used in live floral arrangements or given as gifts during the Christmas season.
The amaryllis is an unusual looking plant that grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet and produces four 6- to 10-inch lily-like flowers at the top of one thick green stalk. If a large bulb is planted, it is not uncommon to have two single stalks growing side-by-side that produce four flowers apiece. The amaryllis comes in a variety of reds with white, pink or even pinkish-orange.
When starting with a single bulb, choose a pot that is about 1 inch larger in diameter than the bulb is and has adequate drainage holes at the bottom. Plant the bulb in the pot using a nutritious potting soil that will not hold too much water and allows for good drainage. Cover the bulb with soil, allowing 1/3 to 1/2 of the bulb to be above the soil's surface and press the soil down around the bulb before watering.
Water the plant thoroughly after it has been planted and place the container in a warm sunny spot. Unless the soil becomes overly dry, the bulb should not be watered again until the first signs of new growth appear. Once the amaryllis begins to grow, water is given every three days or so when the top of the soil feels dry. Since the roots need the water more than the bulb itself, it is preferable to water from the bottom of the pot by placing it into a bowl or pan that holds a shallow amount of water. Care should be taken not to let it stay in standing water, as the roots may rot.
Once the plant has bloomed and the flowers begin to whither, the blossoms can then be removed. Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut away the faded flower along with the green part behind it, including the stem of the bloom that attaches it to the stalk. Once all the flowers have bloomed and are removed, the stalk is then cut back to 2 inches above the bulb, allowing just the leaves to remain. Continue to care for the plant through the spring. It may produce one or more leaves during this time that can remain on the plant. In June the amaryllis can be moved outdoors and planted in the ground while still in the container. This will make it easier to bring the plant back indoors before it gets too cold.
If another growing season is desired, the amaryllis is brought back inside before the first frost appears. All dead leaves should be cut away, but any live ones can remain. The plant is once again kept in its pot and is placed in a cool area (around 55 degrees F) with dim lighting for six to eight weeks, which will allow it to enters its dormant period. During this time it no watering is needed, but any leaves that die can be removed. When you are ready for the plant to bloom again, simply remove the plant from the cool dark area and start the growing process over again.