Written by Peter Fitzmaurice
So you have been thinking about growing an amaryllis for years, but the name, let alone the exotic looking flower or the giant bulb, puts you off! Too difficult you may be thinking? Think again!
Truth be told, growing an amaryllis is relatively easy if you following a few basic guidelines.
- Choose a healthy and plump bulb. (the larger the bulb the more blooms it will produce)
- Plant in a pot with a drainage hole that is roughly 2” wider in diameter than the bulb you have chosen (amaryllis love to have their roots crowded)
- Use a course, sandy potting soil as amaryllis hate to be in soggy soils. If in doubt use a cactus soil. (This should be the right formulation for amaryllis)
Once you have selected the variety you like, trim off any shrivelled and broken roots as these will not do anything and may rot in the soil. I like to peel any withered or discoloured skin off the crown of the bulb, as this part of the bulb is always above soil and can spoil the overall appeal. Place a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot so that when planting, the top of the bulb is just protruding (1”) above the top of the pot. The amount of soil depends on the size of the bulb, but 2/3 up would probably be a good place to start. The last step is to press potting soil down between the pot and the bulb, leaving 1/3 of the bulb showing above soil level. amaryllis dislike having moisture around their necks
Note: Some folk like to place a cane in between pot and bulb at this time for future staking as the flowers sometimes get too heavy for their fleshy stems.
Tip: A heavy pot may also prevent the plant becoming top heavy.
The “work” is done… now give your freshly planted amaryllis a good watering. Don’t be shy with this first watering as this is the first moisture the bulb will have had in a while. After this, water sparingly until the buds appear at the tip of the bulb. Once the flower bud starts to emerge, water regularly to keep the soil damp but not soggy. amaryllis plants should be placed in a bright 21°C (70°F) but cool nights will keep the bloom from growing too tall and too fast. The flowers usually open within 6 to 7 weeks, so if you miss this holiday season, they will still be ready for a January show.
Amaryllis on Pebbles
You can also grow amaryllis in a vase or other water tight container. Simply place a generous layer of decorative gravel, glass beads or pebbles in the container. Place the cleaned bulb (as described above) on this layer and fill around with the same media it to keep the bulb in place. A small amount of water should be poured into the vessel being sure not to submerge the bulb. The roots will be drawn down into the water in no time. The new bud should start poking out in a week or 2.
Over the last decade, amaryllis bulb growers have been perfecting a relatively new treatment of the amaryllis bulb. They remove the root mass at the bass of the bulb and coat it in a number of layers of colourful wax. Not only does it make the display of these beautiful blossoms clean and easy, this also negates the need to water them. Due to the fact that these waxed bulbs don’t need to be potted or require watering, this means that you can use these magnificent, giant flowering bulbs in dry arrangements like table centrepieces, wreaths or other displays in your home. It should be noted that because the roots have been removed, they cannot be grown from one year to the next.
Getting your Amaryllis Bulb to Rebloom
This excludes Wax Amaryllis
When you purchase your first amaryllis bulb it will have been treated “just right” to produce blooms the first year. However, a bulb that has flowered in your home will need special treatment to get it to rebloom in subsequent years. Not all amaryllis bulbs are the same, but by following these simple steps you will increase the chance of getting your bulb to rebloom.
Once your amaryllis has finished blooming, cut the flower stem off an inch above the soil level leaving the leaves intact. Treat the plant just like you would any other house plant, feeding regularly to encourage healthy leaf growth. Once the weather has become reliably warm (early May) place your potted amaryllis in the garden in a sunny but protected spot. Note: The leaves may burn initially as they will not be used to the sunshine, but do not worry, new leaves will sprout in no time. Fertilize every couple of weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, we recommend GARDENWORKS Flowering Plant Food 15-3-15.
By the end of August your amaryllis plant leaves will start to show signs of yellowing. Withhold water, take indoors and place in a cool, dry and dark place. Store for a minimum of 8 weeks. The leaves will wither away. About 6-8 weeks before you want it to flower again repot in fresh soil using the same method as above. Re-introduce water and move to a warmer location.
By following these basic guidelines, you should be able to encourage your amaryllis to bloom year after year.
I hope you enjoy growing your amaryllis as much as I do.