By Doug Hackbarth
Broadview Florist & Greenhouse
One of the easiest-to-grow, blooming bulb plants is the South American Amaryllis. This bulb thrives on normal household temperatures of around 70 degrees and will bloom in only 6 to 8 weeks after it is planted. The botanical named Hippeastrum, or Amaryllis comes in a wide variety of colors such as red, white, pink, salmon and orange, and even a couple of striped varieties of red and white or pink and white.
When shopping for an amaryllis bulb remember that the bigger the bulb, the larger the flower. It is worth the extra dollars to get the best bulbs you can find in all cases of flowering bulbs. Amaryllis bulbs can be planted anytime between October through April so if you buy several bulbs, plant them weeks apart to ensure blooming throughout the whole winter and spring seasons.
Planting amaryllis bulbs is usually done in a 6
1/2" pot, clay or plastic, using a very good, artificial soil mix, sometimes blended with a little course builder’s sand. It is a good idea to water the first time with warm water then wait to water a second time until after you see some growth. Any "general use" fertilizer may be applied monthly at about half the recommended rate. As the plant grows, water more often.
After the flowers get old and fade, cut them and the stem down to about 2" from the base of the plant, then keep watering and fertilizing the bulb all through the spring and summer as the healthy leaf development puts nutrients back down into the bulb for next time. Sometime in September cut the entire plant back to the top of the bulb and allow the bulb to rest in a cool place (no colder than 40 degrees) for a minimum of 6 weeks. Re-pot and start over again.