Affordable, showy and simple to grow, amaryllis plants (Hippeastrum x hybridum) work both as potted gifts and in-ground showstoppers. Native to the tropics and subtropics, these bulb plants only grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. They're more familiar as holiday flowering houseplants. Although you can buy new bulbs each year, you can also grow them for next season.
When the Flowers Fade
Watch the flowers carefully. Once they start to fade, snip them off. Don't allow the flowers to go to seed -- seed production will only waste valuable energy that could be stored in the bulb for flowers for next year. Snip the flowers with sterilized clippers, but leave the stem and leaves -- as they turn yellow, then brown, they returns valuable nutrients to the bulb.
After snipping off the flowers, move the plant -- if it's in a pot -- to a sunny spot indoors, if it wasn't in one already. Water the amaryllis whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. If your potted plant has a tray underneath, make sure to empty it promptly to prevent the bulb from rotting.
When the Stems and Leaves Wilt
Remove the stem and leaves when they wilt and turn yellow, but continue to water the plant. It will also benefit from a dose of fertilizer once a month. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 20-20-20 formula designed for houseplants. How much to use will vary depending on what brand of fertilizer you use, but in general, dilute 1 teaspoon of liquid fertilizer in 1 quart of water and use the solution to water the plant.
When Winter Arrives
Continue to water and fertilize your indoor potted plant. Outdoor amaryllis plants can be heavily mulched in USDA zone 8 after the stems and leaves die back to help protect the bulbs. In warmer climates, you don't have to do anything. In frost-free climates the plant is evergreen.
Move indoor amaryllis plants outdoors when all danger of frost has passed, but do it gradually. First, place the pot in the shade. After two days, move it so it gets a couple hours of sun. Continue to gradually expose the amaryllis to more sun until it is in a spot where it will get about six hours of direct sun each day. At that point, sink the pot into the ground.
As the growing season progresses, a new stem, leaves and flowers will appear. Outdoor, in-ground plants will bloom throughout spring. Potted plants that were brought outside in spring might bloom later. Bring potted plants indoors before the first frost of fall.
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