Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Joy : An Amaryllis

Amaryllis have become popular.  They are a beautiful bit of joy during our dreary winter months in Canada.    They are affordable and come in a variety of colours, sizes and shapes.  They’re not difficult to grow and can bloom every year provided they are treated correctly.

A few years ago, hubby, while out shopping accidently knocked over an amaryllis in the grocery store.  Feeling sorry for this sad looking plant, he brought it home for me to “fix it”.   The stems and flower stalk were broken and I was rather doubtful it could be “saved”.   So, without trying to sound ungrateful that hubby had brought me flowers, I left it near a bright window in the kitchen to see what would happen.   Within a couple of weeks a new flower stalk appeared and not long after a large beautiful double headed flower appeared.  The flower lasted a number of weeks and gave us so much joy !    To my surprise, this one bulb has re-bloomed every year for us. 

Here are some simple steps I do to keep my amaryllis blooming year after year:
To enjoy your amaryllis for the maximum time possible place it in a location with diffuse light and cool indoor temperatures in the 60°F range. Keep it barely moist. 
1. Move it outdoors in spring.
As soon as the weather settles and all threat of frost is gone, move your amaryllis outdoors.  Choose a sunny area where you can water the plants daily. A deck or patio works fine, and the glossy strap-shaped leaves are a good textural foil for many other plants. Fertilize the plants every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer or apply a slow release fertilizer.
2. Cut the flower stalks.
When the last flower has faded on each of the flower stalks, cut the flower stalk near the top of the bulb. Be careful not to injure the leaves or any emerging flower stalks.
3. Decide when you'd like your amaryllis to bloom again.
If you want flowers for the holidays, you'll need to begin its dormant period by mid August. We like to enjoy our Amaryllis after the holidays – after all the busyness is over, it is bright cherry spot in our home.  Withhold water, and move the pots to a location where they can be kept around 55°F.  I keep mine in the crawl space in our basement – where it’s dark and cool.   I keep it in it’s original pot. 
 4.   Keep it in cool storage until the bulbs signal they are ready to go.
Amaryllis usually lose all or most of their leaves during their dormant period, although it is not necessary for all the leaves to wither for the bulb to reach complete dormancy. Keep the bulb on the dry side. Check the bulb every week; after eight to ten weeks of cool storage, you should notice the tip of the new flower stalk emerging from the bulb. If you shift the bulb to a warm spot (70-80°F) for three weeks, you will encourage leaves to emerge at the same time the flower stalk is developing. You can repot the bulb in fresh soil at this point. Be careful not to bury the bulb too deeply. At least one third of the bulb should be visible above the soil surface. Don't plant the bulb in a pot that is any more than two times the diameter of the bulb. When you repot it, you may notice smaller side bulbs that can be broken away from the main bulb. These can also be potted and grown on in a sunny spot. They will not bloom this year, but may bloom after two or three years of growth.  
5. Start it warm and water tentatively.
Water your amaryllis thoroughly right after you repot it, and allow the soil surface to dry a bit before watering it again. Place it in a warm spot to stimulate root growth. A sunny spot is best. If you try to rebloom your amaryllis in dim light conditions, the flower stalk will grow long and your amaryllis will be more prone to breakage or tipping. Wait until the first flower has opened to move the plant to a location with subdued light and cool temperatures to preserve the flower as long as possible.  
6. Repeat.
You can keep your amaryllis indefinitely, and if you can provide the right conditions for growth and dormancy, your bulb will get larger and multiply itself over the years. Large bulbs may produce as many as three flower stalks and some bulbs may bloom during the summer as well as during the winter, depending on temperature and other growing conditions.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful, I used to have the opportunity to nurture plants like these years ago when I lived down in Oakville. It was a treasure. These are just beautiful plants you have taken care of here!!


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