Nothing cheers up a wintertime interior better than a blooming amaryllis (Hippeastrum). The bulb puts on a show, exuding energy as it rapidly pushes up green stalks and opens its surprisingly large flowers. The hybridizers offer it in almost every color, but the most popular variety is 'Apple Blossom'. The flower of 'Apple Blossom' is pale pink with feathered edges and a white star at the center. Some say the fragrance is similar to the flowers on an apple tree. A refreshing sight in any winter month, 'Apple Blossom' deserves its place at the top of the amaryllis hit parade.
Choosing Bulbs & Pots
Buy the largest bulbs you can find. Garden centers stock loose 'Apple Blossom' bulbs.
Choose a pot that is 1 to 2 inches wider than the bulb. Seek out a tall terracotta pot called a 'Long Tom' that gives the bulb plenty of root space.
Get a bag of potting soil that promises good drainage.
Save time by picking up an 'Apple Blossom' amaryllis bulb in a boxed kit, complete with plastic pot and potting soil, at a grocery store or nursery.
Place one inch of potting soil in the pot.
Hold the bulb in one hand, with the top half of the bulb showing above the edge of the pot rim. With the other hand scoop potting soil into the pot, packing it firmly around the roots and the bulb. Stop when the soil is 1 inch from the top of the pot.
Water the potted bulb thoroughly and keep it in a warm room.
Water the amaryllis when the soil feels dry.
Move the amaryllis to a sunny spot as soon as green tips emerge from the bulb. Water regularly, keeping the soil moist, and use a liquid plant food.
Rotate the pot daily to keep the growing stalk upright. If the stalk is not firm, gently push a small stake into the outside edge of the pot and loosely tie the stalk to the stake.
Wait 6 to 8 weeks after planting and then enjoy the 'Apple Blossom' flowers as they open. Each stalk usually produces four flowers.
Move the flowering 'Apple Blossom' out of the sun to a cooler location to prolong blooming.
Cut off the stalk at its base after the flowers fade, being careful not to nick the bulb. A healthy bulb can grow 2 or 3 stalks in a season.
Continue to water the amaryllis as it grows leaves. In warm weather move the plant outdoors into filtered sun, maintaining the water and fertilizer routine. In early September put the plant, in a closet. Bring it out in early November and water it, beginning the process again for a new season of flowers.
About this Author
Daffodil Planter's writing appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, and she is the Sacramento Gardening Scene Examiner for Examiner.com. A member of the Garden Writers Association, she has a bachelor's degree from Stanford, a law degree from the University of Virginia and studies horticulture at Sierra College.