Red and white amaryllis flower.
image by Johanna Ljungblom/sxc.hu
The amaryllis belongs to the group of plants commonly referred to as Christmas flowers. The large red or white blooms are forced before the holidays so they can grace the cold winter with their bright colors. As a tropical plant, the amaryllis cannot survive cold winter temperatures so is most often grown in pots inside. Providing the proper care from the time of planting until long past flowering ensures your amaryllis provides blooms for several holiday seasons to come.
Choose a pot that is two inches wider in diameter than the diameter of the bulb. On average, a 6- to 8-inch diameter pot is sufficient.
Fill the pot with a rich sterile potting soil. Avoid reusing old soil as it may harbor disease that affects your amaryllis.
Plant the bulb in the center of the pot. Plant so the side of the bulb with the apparent stem is above the soil line. Place a stake in the pot next to the bulb for future support.
Water until water drains from the bottom of the pot. Cease watering until new leaves begin growing from the bulb.
Keep the plant at room temperature and water regularly after the leaves begin growing. Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.
Tie the central stem to the stake with garden ties as it grows. This prevents the stem from breaking once the flower opens, approximately eight weeks after planting.
Place blooming amaryllis in a room away from sunlight where the temperatures are approximately 65 degrees F.
Cut off each bloom off the main stem as it fades. Remove the stem entirely when all the buds have completed blossoming. Remove it 2 inches above the bulb.
Move the plant to a well lit area after blooming to encourage further leaf growth for the next blooming period. Keep the soil moist at all times.
Place the amaryllis in a dark, cool area, such as a basement, in October to encourage dormancy. Cut off any dead leaves, then leave in the dark for eight weeks until forcing the blooms again.