By Suzanne DeJohn, Gardener's Supply Company
Photographs courtesy of Gardener's Supply Company
Amaryllis are the quintessential holiday flower, boasting huge blooms in vibrant colors. For all their flamboyance, however, amaryllis are some of the simplest plants to care for. The large bulbs contain stored energy and are just waiting for a chance to burst into growth.
1. Start by choosing the right pot. Select one that's an inch or two larger in diameter than your bulb — amaryllis bulbs don't mind a snug home. Most importantly, the pot should have one or more drainage holes, and a saucer to catch any overflow. It should be fairly deep, too, about as deep as it is wide. Clay and ceramic pots are good choices, because a heavy pot will help prevent toppling once the plant produces its signature large, showy flowers.
2. Use a lightweight, peat- or coir-based potting mix. These will drain more freely than heavier planting mixes (or garden soil) — you don't want your amaryllis bulb to rot in overly wet soil. Pour some potting mix into a bowl or other container, add a cup of water and stir. Wait ten minutes and stir again, adding more water if needed so all of the mix is just slightly damp.
3. Place about an inch of potting mix into the bottom of the pot. Place the bulb in the pot and check to see that when the pot is filled with soil up to about an inch from the rim, that the top third of the bulb remains above the soil. Add more soil underneath the bulb if necessary. Then add soil around the bulb, packing it gently to remove air pockets.
4. Water the potting mix lightly. At this point the pot can be kept anywhere at room temperature.
Check the bulb daily, and once you see the first hint of growth, move the pot to a spot with bright, indirect light (still at room temperature). Once the plant is up and growing, you can water more generously, but always drain any excess water to prevent rot.
Once the flowers begin to form, keep the plant out of direct sunlight to prevent the flower color from fading. Also, moving the plant to a cooler location, especially at night, will help prolong the bloom time. Learn more about Amaryllis Care.
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