Huge blooms, sparkling petals, a wide range of exciting colours – it’s easy to fall in love with Amaryllis. But few gardeners know just how durable these fabulous bulbous plants can be. According to the University of Minnesota, they have been known to keep blooming reliably for over 75 years! Best of all, you don’t need any special gardening skills. A little know-how, and you’ll get years of pleasure from a single Amaryllis bulb.
Chances are, however, that you won’t be satisfied with just one plant. After all, apart from the classic red, there are virginal whites, peachy pinks, bright apricot blooms, rich rose shades, bicolours, and more. There are even some very special double varieties with more than their fair share of petals.
Start With Top Sized Amaryllis Bulbs
In the world of flower bulbs, bigger is almost always better. A top-sized Amaryllis bulb has been groomed and nurtured for years to produce the best blooms possible. Bigger bulbs produce more flower stems and bigger blooms, and they’re also a sign that the company you’re getting them from believes in quality.
That also means that your bulbs will be disease-free with no rotten patches, and they will be packed and shipped at the right season and in such a way that the bulb is free from any damage.
Pot It Up
Amaryllis bulbs are so big that you might be tempted to give them lots of space, but they really prefer minimal room. The width of your pot should allow for 3-5cm of room around the bulb, and its depth should be about twice the height of the bulb.
Drainage is also very important, so be sure to check that your container has generous drainage holes at the bottom. Amaryllis are quite heavy when in full bloom, so a little weight helps to prevent your potted bulb from becoming top-heavy when in bloom. Choose a well-drained potting mixture, and plant your bulb so that its “neck” or upper half to one third of the bulb is above the soil level.
Just Add Water
Now that your bulb is potted, just add water to get it growing! It will want a sunny windowsill, and it will thank you for half-strength liquid feeds every time you water it. You definitely don’t want to overwater your bulbs. When they get water, you will want to drench them thoroughly, and then you will withhold watering until the upper 5cm of the potting medium have dried out. Throw out water that has drained into the pot saucer to prevent root rot.
One of the fun things about Amarylllis is that they don’t wait to bloom. The flower buds usually emerge before the leaves. Just five to eight weeks after you potted your Amaryllis bulbs up, they will begin to bloom. To help your flowers last longer, move the pot out of direct sunlight.
Now, you can enjoy the fruits of what little labour you have put in so far – but to make your bulbs last longer, aftercare is in order.
Taking a Run-Up to The Next Flowers
As you can imagine, the bulb has poured almost all its stored reserves into those magnificent flowers. To get more blooms next year, you need to help it recover its stored energy – and that means letting the leaves grow.
But if you leave the spent flowers on, quite a lot of that energy is going to go into seed formation, so cut off the old flowers first. You can leave the stem on since it is photosynthesizing, but when it yellows, it is time to remove the stem too. For photosynthesis, more sun is better. You can even take the pots outside once you’re confident that there won’t be morning frost. Keep watering and feeding as before.
Before the first frosts of autumn, bring your Amaryllis plants into a protected area and store them where they will be cool and dry with no light. Ideally, leave them in their containers to limit root disturbance. Don’t cut the leaves off before they have dried out. The plant is drawing nutrients from the leaves and is storing them in the bulb.
Check your bulbs once a week or so, and if they begin to grow, give them sunlight and start feeding and watering them once again. After eight to twelve weeks of cool, dry, dark storage, it’s time to start the growth cycle once again.
October Planting For Christmas Blooms
Amaryllis can be “forced” to flower at any time that you like, and this has made them hugely popular as Christmas blooms even though they like tropical, or at least summer, conditions. To get your Amaryllis flowering in time for Christmas, plant them in October – but later plantings will still flower beautifully.
Are you ready to bring the tropics into your home? Farmer Gracy has hunted high and low to compile a range of colours and flower forms that will appeal to everyone. But be warned: you will face temptation! One of the varieties we offer is even called “Temptation”. Still, with so many years of pleasure to be had from a single flower bulb, there’s no harm in spoiling yourself just a little.