Friday, March 6, 2020

The Holiday Flower Amaryllis
By Ed Powers, Jefferson County Master Gardener

Fantasica Amaryllis
I received two lovely pink and red Amaryllis bulbs for the holidays this year from my wife and daughter. I planted both bulbs immediately. Much to my surprise they both started growing shortly after planting. The pink one grew to six inches before it bloomed with four big beautiful blossoms. The red one grew to 14 inches and has four big red blossoms. They have been a joy.  

I have had Amaryllis before but none this large. I became curious and did a lot of research on the internet and this blog is a result of that research. Amaryllis plants are just a lot of fun and so beautiful. Some believe they are fast replacing the Poinsettia as the go to Holiday flower.

Native to Peru and South Africa, the genus Amaryllis comes from the Greek word amarysso, which means "to sparkle." Bulbs were brought to Europe in the 1700s and have been known to bloom for up to 75 years. Today, most amaryllis are hybrids but are still classified in the genus Hippeastrum.

Amaryllis flowers range from four to ten inches in size, and can be either single or double in form. Amaryllis varieties include various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. There are also many striped and multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white.
Picotee Amaryllis

Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom, indoors or out, and over an extended period of time.
If you cannot plant the bulbs immediately after receiving them, store them at a cool temperature between 40-50 degrees F. 

Prepare the bulbs for planting by putting the base and roots of the bulb in lukewarm water for a few hours. Plant bulbs in a nutritious potting compost, many are available pre-mixed. Plant the bulb up to its neck in the potting compost, being careful to not damage the roots. Press the soil down firmly to set the bulb securely in place after planting.

Plant the bulb, or place the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. The ideal temperature is 68 to 70 degrees F. Water sparingly until the stem appears. As the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. 
At this point, the stem will grow rapidly and flowers will develop when it has reached full height. Bulbs will flower in seven to ten weeks as a general rule. Mine blossomed in three to four weeks.

In winter the flowering time will be longer than in spring. Set up your planting schedule between October and April with this in mind. To achieve continuous bloom, plant at intervals of two weeks for stunning color in your home or garden.

After your amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again. Cut the old flowers from the stem, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb. Continue to water and fertilize as normal all summer, or for at least five to six months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow.

When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in early fall, cut the leaves back to about two inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil. Clean the bulb and place it in a cool (40-50 deg. F), dark place such as the refrigerator for a minimum of six to eight weeks. Caution: do not store amaryllis bulbs in a refrigerator that contains apples, this will sterilize the bulbs.

After six to eight weeks, remove bulbs and plant them. Plant bulbs eight weeks before you would like them to bloom.

I really like my bulbs and look forward to growing them again next year.
Red Pearl Amaryliss

Growing and caring for amaryllis | UMN Extension

Flower pictures courtesy of The University of Minnesota Extension  

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