I know a lot of people regard poinsettias as the quintessential Christmas plant, but for me it’s the amaryllis. I remember growing them years ago, when there were only a few varieties to choose from. They were often just sold by color, with red being a common favorite. These days there are probably hundreds to choose from. I got my bulbs from John Scheepers, and they had over 40 varieties this year.
Unlike spring flowering bulbs like daffodils or tulips, amaryllis don’t need to be “forced” into bloom for winter. They don’t need a cold treatment at all, but they do need a rest period each year. Give them plenty of light and room temperatures and most varieties will bloom within 6-12 weeks after being planted.
I potted up my new amaryllis bulbs in early November. I kept them under grow lights that were on 12 hours a day. I watered them when I first planted them, then waited until they showed signs of growth before watering again.
A few weeks ago, the amaryllis looked like this, with fat flower buds peeking out of the bulb. They stayed this way for about a week.
Then all of a sudden, they started to shoot up towards the light, and began to open. At first, they showed just the promise of what was to come.
Then in another few days, each bud began to open. The true colors were now visible, though the pollen was yet to ripen on the anthers.
And finally, the flower revealed itself in all its glory. This is a miniature variety named Amalfi, with smaller bulbs than regular amaryllis, but there’s nothing miniature about the flowers!
I really like the way the green throat contrasts with the bright rose-colored petals of this variety. It reminds me of spring, even though it’s not even officially winter yet!
After flowering I’ll cut the flower stalk and let the foliage grow through next spring and summer, giving them lots of sunshine. In early fall, I’ll stop watering and give the bulbs a chance to rest for a month or so. Then I’ll cut the foliage back to within an inch of the bulb, give them a little top-dressing of new soil and wait for the show to begin anew.
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