The Amaryllis originated in South America. It is considered a tender bulb flower because, when grown in nontropical areas, it must be protected from winter conditions--even when dormant. The large bulbs available on the market today are South African, Dutch or Israeli grown. Amaryllis bulbs are ready to be planted indoors as soon as they are purchased.
Most Amaryllis bulbs have a circumference of more than eight inches. Two to six flowers will bloom on a flower stalk. Amaryllis is available in flower colors of orange, salmon, pink, white, red and bicolor. Extra large bulbs may produce two stalks. Depending on the country where the bulb was produced, the cultivar and the forcing conditions, the height of the amaryllis will range from 18 to 36 inches.
Planting Amaryllis Bulbs
Plant the Amaryllis bulb in a standard six-inch-diameter pot with drainage holes, filled with well-drained, sterilized soil that has a pH of 6 to 6.5. The top third of the bulb should be above the rim of the pot. Immediately wet the soil with lukewarm water, being careful not to water the bulb. A once-a-week watering, enough to keep the soil moist, is usually all the moisture the bulb will need to grow.
Place the pot in a well-lighted area with a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F until the leaves and stalk start to grow. Then the temperature can vary from 65 to 75 degrees F.
Once the Amaryllis has started to grow, it will need additional fertilization. Use a complete NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) fertilizer. When the Amaryllis starts to bloom, move it to an area that is well lighted but not in the direct sunlight, ideally in the coolest part of the home. This will increase the life of the flower. Rotate the pot as the Amaryllis grows so that it does not lean toward the sun.
Cut the flowers off when they start to fade. When all of the blooms are spent, cut the stalk down to just above the nose of the bulb, but allow the leaves to remain. Expect water to run out of the cut stalk.
Storing the Amaryllis
Treat Amaryllis like any other houseplant for an additional five to six months to give it the chance to replenish food that is stored in the bulb. Then gradually reduce the water over a period of three weeks until no water is given. Let the leaves turn yellow and die before cutting them off.
Set the potted bulb in a dark dry place to rest for at least six to eight weeks. Maintain a temperature of 50 to 60 degrees F. The bulb can be taken out to grow again anytime after this rest period.
Regrowing the Amaryllis
Bring the potted Amaryllis bulb back into the light four to eight weeks before desired bloom time. It doesn't have to be repotted every year as it likes to be a bit pot bound. Follow the same growing procedure as when the bulb was first purchased.
The Amaryllis bulb grows bigger each year, and that means more flowers.