Amaryllis or Hippeastrum - How to Grow and Bloom Again
A Popular Winter Blooming House Plant
Amaryllis is a stunning houseplant often sold at Christmas time. A tall stalk grows from the large, heavy bulb some 7 - 10 weeks after planting. Each bulb produces one or two stalks which, in turn, produce two to four very impressive blooms.
The flowers are large, lily-like, and trumpet shaped with prominent stamens. Flower colors range from white to red, salmon, pink, yellow, flecked, or bi color with one color fading into another.
The Latin name is Hippeastrum acramannii. The actual Amaryllis belladonna is a beautiful flower that is related to that which we call Amaryllis.
Amaryllis are easily available and relatively inexpensive, though the more exotic or newer hybrids may cost a bit more than the more common varieties.
How to Plant an Amaryllis Bulb
Purchase a bare bulb or one that has been planted in a container. You may see a bit of green on the top which shows the stem is emerging from dormancy. Inspect the bulb. Don't buy one that looks shriveled, moldy, or brown at the edges.
- If you plant the bulb yourself, soak it for a few hours in lukewarm water.
- Choose a container that is heavy enough so that the top heavy Amaryllis will not topple over. Plastic containers are too light weight and not really suitable for such a dramatic flower. Terra cotta can be quite inexpensive and offers the weight needed to offset the weight of the blooming plant.
- Fill the bottom of the pot with small stones or pieces of broken terra cotta. If you still think that the plant will need more bottom weight, you can place a larger rock in the container.
- Plant the bulb in a loose soil mix with commercial potting soil, peat moss or humus, and perlite. (Perlite is a soil conditioner that reduces soil clumping and improves drainage)
- Set the bulb into the soil with the widest part facing down. Allow the top 1/3 or 1/4 of the bulb to protrude above the surface of the soil.
- Place container in a warm, brightly lit area. The plant will need some direct sunlight. An east or southeast facing window is best.
- Water sparingly.
- After the stalk emerges, increase water. Allow soil to nearly dry out before watering again. Do not over water. Too much water will rot the roots.
- Turn container often as the stalk will grow towards the light.The stalk shows up first. Foliage will grow in later.
- The leaves are medium green, strappy and slightly arching.
Keeping that Amaryllis in Bloom
In order to keep the Amaryllis in bloom for the longest possible time, move it into a cooler area of the house. Flowers generally last longer when keep relatively cool and out of direct sunlight.
How to Get Amaryllis to Bloom Again the Next Year
When the flowers wither, remove them from the stalk.
After all the flowers have faded, cut the stalk down close to the foliage. Keep watering the plant and begin to feed with a liquid fertilizer. (Use a fertilizer that is higher in phosphate and potash, the last two numbers in the 3 number sequence on fertilizer container).
Plant outdoors when there is no longer a chance of frost or leave in container and maintain until the leaves yellow and die mid summer to early fall.
Snip of the dead leaves to within 2" of the bulb.
Remove the bulb from the soil mix and gently brush off any soil.
Dump soil and clean the container.
Store bulb in a dark area at temperatures between 40 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You can keep it in a garage or the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.
Allow the bulb to rest in cold storage for 6 - 8 weeks.
Now you are ready to start all over again!
TIP - If you have several bulbs, stagger planting. Plant one bulb every 2 weeks for a continuous show of these magnificent flowering houseplants.