Growing Amaryllis

Amaryllis Blitzen

Amaryllis bulbs are a popular gift this time of year when you don’t know what to get someone or to give as a hostess gift.  They’re big, they’re beautiful (well, they will be when they’re blooming) and they bring a lot of bang for your buck because they can bloom for weeks and weeks, sending up flower stalk after flower stalk with multiple blooms.

Amaryllis is a flowering bulb with the botanical name of Hippeastrum but we never say that out loud because no one would know what we were talking about.  It’s a tropical bulb so won’t withstand our winters but it likes to live indoors through the colder months and can spend the summer lounging outside.

They are usually sold in boxed kits at this time of year with a plastic pot and a puck of peat and while the kits are a handy grab-and-go gift I prefer to choose a bulb and pair it up with a pretty pot, some decorative stones and a big, festive bow if I’m heading to someone’s house.  It makes the gift so much more personal.

As with most flower bulbs, the larger the bulb the more flowers so go big if you can.  They’re super easy to plant and don’t take a lot of care after, just a bit of water once in a while.

I usually soak the base of the bulb where the roots are in lukewarm water for a few hours before planting as they’re usually pretty dry so rehydrating them will help move things along.  Pot up in a decorative or clay pot, not much bigger than the bulb itself, with a good indoor potting soil such as Nature Mix Indoor Soil or Get Up & Grow.  Snug the amaryllis down and press the soil firmly around, bringing the soil level to just below the neck of the bulb.  The key is to not bury them like you’d be inclined to as the amaryllis bulb prefers to have about a third of the top of the bulb above soil level.

Place in a warm area with direct light such as a sunny window.  Give it a drink of water but then water sparingly until a stem appears then gradually water a little more.  Amaryllis can be stubborn sometimes, taking a week or two to show any sign of growth but once they get going you can almost see them grow before your eyes.  When in flower move it to a cooler place, out of the direct sun, to extend the flowering period.

Some types of amaryllis are quicker to flower than others and we have them at Cultivate under the names of Santa’s reindeer.  There’s Comet, there’s Cupid, no Donner but there’s Blitzen.  Dancer is in the house along with Vixen and of course, Rudolf, but hurry, as they have to get ready for their big night…less than a month away!

Shirley Eppler

November 2013