I really enjoy the seasonal flowers that appear this time of year, especially the amaryllis. Many university Extension systems have information on the amaryllis so I wanted to summarize some of those sources this week to share with you.Amaryllis are native to tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas. They come in several colors, including red, pink, orange, salmon, white, and bicolor varieties. Single-flowering, double flowering, and miniature amaryllis varieties are available. Two to six flowers are produced on each flower stalk.
When purchasing amaryllis, select large, solid bulbs that show no sign of shriveling or decay. The largest bulbs often produce 2 flower stalks. When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot that is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container can be made from just about any material possible but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in a good, well-drained potting soil. Add a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot and center the bulb atop the soil in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting soil, firming it around the roots and bulb.
The sun-loving amaryllis grows best indoors in a well-lighted area that receives at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. A southern window exposure is best. Keep the bulb in a slightly moist soil condition until flowering and then increase the frequency of watering. It is best to water your plant when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Watering once per week is usually adequate.
Amaryllis prefers warm temperatures of 70 to 75 °F for best growth until the roots form and the leaves and flower stalk begins to grow. Once the plant flowers, cooler temperatures of 65 °F will prolong the life of the flower. Fertilizing an amaryllis bulb that has no leaves can kill the roots, but after the plant begins to grow fertilize twice a month.After flowering, the secret of successfully growing amaryllis is to keep the plants actively growing after they finish blooming. Remove the blossoms as soon as they fade to prevent seed formation by cutting the stem off just above the bulb. Place in a sunny window. During the next several months growth is active and should be encouraged for future bulb development.
There are several things that you need to do to re-flower your potted amaryllis. First, stop watering and fertilizing it for 8 to ten weeks. The leaves will yellow and wither. When you see the top of the flower bud beginning to emerge, put the pot in a sunny area and start watering it again. Remove all dry foliage. As the flower stalk begins to lengthen, rotate the plant every few days to prevent the stem from leaning towards the light.