Amaryllis bulbs are common gifts in winter. They are usually planted between September and January and will produce a huge flower or group of flowers in a few months. The stalks can be 2-feet high and the flowers as big as a man's fist. The growth of amaryllis is fast and requires little special care beyond well-drained soil, a sunny location and some water. They can be grown indoors in containers or outside. Few problems persist in amaryllis growth, but bulb deformities are a common issue.
Propagation and Bulb Problems
Amaryllis originate from South America, so they do not overwinter well. The bulbs need to be dug up after blooming in most zones and dried for storage. They can be propagated through seed, cuttage or offsets (little bulbs attached to the mother bulbs) as well as the original bulb.The next season when it is time to plant, the bulb needs to be looked over carefully. If it was not properly dried it can be mutated and moldy. These are not good bulbs for planting. If you have planted seed, the matured bulb may have inconsistencies and may result in a flower that does not echo the parent plant.
Amaryllis are immune to many common flower and plant diseases. Despite their hardiness, they are prone to a fungus called red blotch or leaf scorch. It occurs on plants that recive too little light and are and over-watered. The spores need moisture to spawn. Red spots occur on all points of the plant and elongate and sink in.This results in abnormal looking leaves and flowers. The disease continues down into the bulb where it causes abnormal growth and development.The bulb will have red splotches and moldy areas and should not be used.
Bulb rot is common in amaryllis that are planted indoors. They do not need to be in a very large pot but they need very good drainage or the root and bulb will mold and rot. It is a good idea to put a couple of inches of small gravel or rock in the bottom of the pot, and always drain any excess water from the saucer. The rot will cause discoloration, mold and pitting in the bulb, rendering the bulb useless.
Amaryllis bulbs are fragile and can become bruised or injured in transit. When purchased, they are often packed in straw or other absorbent packing to cushion the bulb. Trauma to the bulb will result in it looking misshapen and lumpy. It can also leave fissures and cuts in the surface of the bulb. It is best not to purchase a bulb like this, but if it is already in your possession you can try to grow it. It may not have sustained serious damage and you might get a beautiful bloom.
Narcissus Bulb Fly
Narcissus bulb fly (Stagonospora curtissi) may lay eggs on bulbs that are outdoors drying for winter. When this occurs, the eggs hatch and the maggots eat their way into the bulb. The bulb may actually appear undamaged on the exterior, but it will yield when pressed, indicating rotting on the interior. The foliage on affected bulbs will yellow and distort, and eventually the plant will die. Insecticides are ineffective against this pest, so it is best to dispose of the bulbs.