The amaryllis is quite easily grown in a pot of soil.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be rounding the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa in time to see the amaryllis blooming on the rocks. These giant, bulbous plants produce an incredible flower, so beautiful some call them hypnotizing.
The modern bulbs have been acclimated to North America and are available now in garden centers at prices from about $10 to $50 or more for special varieties.
The amaryllis is quite easily grown in a pot of soil. Its softball-size bulb contains all the nutrients to produce one or more flowers on stalks. Straight from the store, all it needs is water.
GETTING IT TO FLOWER
Getting it to flower is the tricky part.
Dump about a quart of standard potting soil into a tub of water. Stir it to get it very wet. Place some in your bulb pot, seat the bulb and fill in around it, to about two-thirds of the bulb. The top third needs air and must be out of the soil to produce the flower.
Keep in a cool, shady place until you see the new shoot appear. Then place in a sunny location where the temperature remains above 60 degrees. Water when the top dries out. In two to eight weeks, you’ll have a flower or two.
Getting it to rebloom next winter requires a process called “rebuilding the bulb.” Given the right conditions, it will reinvigorate by itself.
Cut the flower stalk but keep the leaves. Place in a sunny location and fertilize once a month. Water when the top of the soil dries out. Keep the leaves on as they provide sun energy to the bulb.
When the leaves wither and turn brown, trim them and place the bulb in a cool (50 degrees), totally dark place such as a closet. Water very sparingly. Do this until new growth appears, in about three month or so. Then repeat the flowering process above.
For a different look, clean the dirt off an emerging bulb and plant in stones or marbles and water in a hurricane vase. The bulb will fill the glass with roots.
STALKS GROW RAPIDLY
Be aware, flower stalks can appear overnight and grow rapidly. They need sunlight to support all that growth. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the bulb.
I have some amaryllis that have bloomed for four years and are still going strong. One thing to remember: The flower stalk can get so heavy, it can pull over the pot onto the floor. You’ll probably need to invent some sort of support for it.
These flowers make an incredible addition to your winter decor. They give us hope that this winter season is just a passing scene.