The Plant Professionals: Amaryllis
Saturday, February 27, 2021

By Kathy Valentine

The most common winter flowering tropical bulb  is the Amaryllis. You might have picked one up in a garden center or grocery store. You might have received one as a gift.  It may have been sold as a kit in a box with bulb, soil and pot. Nurseries sell large specimens individually for plant lovers to pot up in their favorite planter. You can even buy a holiday themed waxed bulb through a catalog or website that literally has been sealed off at the bottom to prevent evaporation but will also prevent root growth. The waxed version is really a bit of a gimmick, as those will not rebloom in future years.
The most common bloom color is a Christmas red, but white, pink, peach ,orange , yellow,  green and bicolor are also possible, especially by ordering well in advance of the season.
Most of these bulbs will produce 1-2 shoots with 3-4  flower buds each, soon after the bulb is potted and watered for the first time. Follow instructions for light, water and temperature to get the most enjoyment and lengthen the time in bloom. The display is beautiful and once the flowers are fully open you will usually see the beginnings of leaves emerging around the crown where the flower stems emerged.
Some people choose to discard the bulbs after the bloom, but for those with a patio and bright windowsill, it is quite possible to rebloom the bulb the next winter. The species is native to an area where the weather is wet most of the year, but about three months is a dry season. As the flowers fade, remove the blooms and eventually the flower stalks, but not the leaves. Keep the plant moist and fertilize it , keeping it in a bright windowsill. Once the danger of frost is past, move the plant outside to a spot on the patio or in the garden. Leave it potted and keep watered. Bring the plant back inside mid -August, and find a cool dark location for it. Stop watering, let the leaves die back, and either take the bulb out of the pot at that time or wait and repot with fresh pasteurized potting soil once the new flower stalk becomes visible. It should show signs of life by November. As long as you can provide good light in the warm months and keep it watered and fertilized in growth months, the cycle can repeat for years.
Kathy Valentine enjoys gardening and her family at her Watertown Township home. Her Michigan State University Horticulture degree was a beginning for a life of learning about and working with plants. Kathy is senior partner at The Plant Professionals located at 16886 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906. 
It is an interior and exterior  landscape design , installation and service firm  also offering green walls and plants and flowers for events. She may be reached at 517-327-1059.

 

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