Answers to your gardening questions
effective Deer Fence!
Hybrid Amaryllis - Growing & Enjoying
by Fred Davis, Hill Gardens of Maine (To view other previous articles, click Archives)
Fred's Garden Gate! Best described as truly majestic, hybrid
amaryllis are some of the showiest of all large bulb houseplants.
Most of the ample numbers of colorful varieties sold today are
descended from Hippeastrum vittatum, a native of Peru. Now
there are Dutch, African and American hybrids. They are also among
the easiest bulb-flowers to grow.
A thick, strong flower spike emerges from a rather large bulb—usually in the spring—and reaches a height of about two feet. At about the same time strap-like dark green leaves begin to make their appearance from the top of the bulb while the large bud-sheaf atop its spike opens. Individual flower buds—normally two for small bulbs and five for large, mature bulbs—almost explode into immense, brilliantly-colored flared trumpets that may reach nine inches across and five or six inches long. Two spikes at the same time are not un-common and their combined blaze of color from as many as ten huge flowers provides a very impressive show indeed!
Flowering lasts three or four weeks. After the last giant blossom has faded and the stem has begun to shrivel, it should be cut just above the bulb. Allow the leaves to continue growing in a sunny window or greenhouse to rebuild the bulb for its next set of flowers. Feeding at this time is important to keep the plant strong, healthy and with dark green foliage. Growth should continue to about mid-summer during which it is likely that a second, smaller bulb may appear at its parent's side. When the leaves begin to look shabby and lose their dark color—likely at the end of summer—withhold water and food and allow it to enter its rest period.
Without disturbing the bulb, place the pot in a cool, dry and light place safe from frost and hungry rodents until very early spring. Do not water or feed during its resting period.
It will not be necessary to repot amaryllis every year--once in three or four years is sufficient. Those which need repotting should be planted in six-inch pots, with drainage holes, in an over-the-counter potting soil lightened with about half its volume of peatmoss or some brand of soilless mix. Place the bulb, without damaging or trimming its roots, head and shoulders above the surface and pack the soil tightly to eliminate all air spaces. Water to moisten but not saturate because they will probably refuse to produce new roots in the presence of too much water. Planted and stored bulbs can be brought out at the same time and given a good watering to start them off once again.
After a few days in a dark, warm cupboard or closet the flower spike should begin to appear. That's the time to bathe it in at least three or four hours of direct sun every day. Feeding begins at that time for newly-repotted bulbs and should continue as long as the plant is blooming or actively growing. I use Peters 10-30-20 "Blossom Booster" every two weeks to encourage both plant and bulb strength, and the production of flowers for next season. Any other balanced liquid would do just fine but you should avoid formulas with a high first number (N) because all you may get next season is leaves.
Amaryllis can be grown from seed but the process is a bit slow. Sow seeds in the spring, barely covered in a sandy seedling mix. Cover with a sheet of glass or plastic—or place in a plastic bag—at room temperature until germination occurs. Transplant to three-inch pots and grow continuously without rest periods until the bulbs are large enough to bloom--three or four years.
thought: Eventually, if cared for as outlined above, you will end up
with more amaryllis than you can handle (the really do
multiply that fast); why not plant the blooming-size extra ones in
decorative containers and share the beautiful bounty with a shut-in,
a handicapped person, or any of the thousands of managed-care
facility or nursing home residents. They will appreciate
them!...and, after the flowers go by, you can pick them up, clean
them up, store them...and bring 'em
back again next year to brighten someone's spirits anew!
|Find your State and County Cooperative Extension Office||Which Maine Hardiness Zone Do I Live In? (.pdf)|
© 10/2007 Hill Gardens of Maine; 107 Route 3, Palermo, Maine 04354. All Rights Reserved. Updated: 08/07/11