Red Star Amaryllis
image by Red Star Amaryllis Photos by Gail548: Flickr.com, Dutch Hybrid Amaryllis Photo by Chris Corney: Flickr.com, White with Pink Amaryllis Photos by Care_SMC: Flickr.com
Sold primarily for forcing at or around the winter holidays, the Amaryllis bulb produces stunning flowers. Trumpet shaped blooms, ranging in size from 3-1/2 to 8 inches across, open from buds on 20-inch stems. On large bulbs, two stems are common and each stem may have up to four flowers open at a time. Amaryllis are easy to bloom and may be kept for years, given the right care. Once the blooming is over, you can keep the bulbs for next year or plant outdoors if you live in the right climate.
Moisten potting mix in a heavy pot with drainage holes, which will keep the top heavy plant from falling over. Place the bulb in the pot and surround it with potting soil so that the lower two thirds of the bulb are in the soil and the top is exposed.
Water the bulb generously just once and wait. Usually within 1 week, the first shoot will appear with a single bud. The stem will grow to about 20 inches and the flower will open. As the plant grows, keep the soil moist, but not wet, or the bulb will rot.
Remove the anthers for the longest lasting flowers once the blooms open. The bulbs sold in stores, online, or through catalogs and magazines in fall are meant for forcing into bloom in late December. Plant the bulbs a week before Halloween for flowers over Christmas.
Clip the flower stalks off 4 inches above the bulb once the blooms have withered. At this point, the bulb has exhausted its supply of food. Leaves, if they haven't appeared already, will show themselves within a few days.
Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry before watering and only moisten, do not drench. Provide liquid fertilizer once a month.
Cut back on watering in early fall and allow the plant to go dormant. After 8 weeks or more of dormancy, the bulb may be watered again for a repeat show of the previous year. Consider the plant dormant after foliage has yellowed and begins to dry.
Growing from Seed
Collect pollen from the anthers with a cotton swab and brush it on the stigma. The anthers are the small, yellow heads at the end of the delicate white stalks in the center of the flower. The stigma is white with the head divided into three small knobs. Once pollinated, the flower will wither, usually within days.
Harvest the seed pod once it is dry and yellow. Dry the pod for 3 to 4 days and open it. Collect the papery seeds and plant them immediately.
Barely cover the seeds with soil and use a mister to keep the soil almost damp until germination in 20 to 120 days.
Grow the plant in well-drained soil, providing fertilizer once a month.
Cut the bulb in wedges with a sharp knife, preserving a portion of the root tip. Dust the cut edge with fungicide. Commercial growers will cut a large bulb into as many as 60 wedges, but this is usually not practical for the home grower, as it will take too long for the bulb to flower. Four to eight wedges can be cut from a single bulb and will flower again the second year after cutting.
Plant the wedges the same as for a full bulb. Set the bulb into moist, but not wet, soil and cover just bottom two-thirds of the bulb.
Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry to a depth of 1 to 2 inches between watering times. Feed the bulb with liquid fertilizer once a month.
About this Author
Michael Logan is a writer, editor and web page designer. His professional background includes electrical, computer and test engineering, real estate investment, network engineering and management, programming and remodeling company owner. Logan has been writing professionally since he was first published in "Test & Measurement World" in 1989.
Red Star Amaryllis Photos by Gail548: Flickr.com, Dutch Hybrid Amaryllis Photo by Chris Corney: Flickr.com, White with Pink Amaryllis Photos by Care_SMC: Flickr.com