University of Illinois Extension

 

Sharon A. Yiesla
Unit Educator, Horticulture, Lake County

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Amaryllis for Winter Beauty

The amaryllis is well loved for its ability to produce huge blooms indoors in the middle of winter. It is often used as a holiday plant, with the bulbs being available for purchase in late fall.

Selecting and Caring for the Amaryllis Bulb

When buying a bulb, select one that is at least 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Smaller bulbs will not bloom. Larger bulbs (4 inches) produce better, often developing two flower stalks instead of one. Make sure the bulbs are firm and free of soft spots and discoloration.

Plant the bulbs in a container that has drainage holes. The container should be about two inches bigger in diameter than the bulb. The planting mix should drain well; an equal mix of peat and perlite would be suitable. Plant so that about one third of the bulb shows above the soil level. After planting, the planting mix should be thoroughly watered. Keep the mix consistently moist. The mix should not be saturated. Do not water over the nose of the bulb. If water seeps into the bulb, it may cause it to rot.

Keep the bulb in a warm room (70-75F) during rooting and early stalk development. As the flower buds begin to form, reduce temperatures to about 65F to prolong flowering. The bulb should be kept in a well-lighted area. During flowering, the plant is best kept in bright, but indirect light. This will help prolong flowering.

During stalk development, fertilize with a complete fertilizer (one that contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). A liquid fertilizer is easiest to apply since the plant is in a small quantity of potting mix. Follow the label directions that come with the fertilizer you buy. The directions will tell you how much to use. Fertilize about every 2-3 weeks.

With proper care, the plant should be flowering within 6-8 weeks after planting the bulb. Duration of the flowers will be dependent on the temperature and light level in the room where the plant is being kept. As each flower fades, cut it off, so that the plant does not waste energy trying to produce seeds. After all the flowers have faded, remove the entire flower stalk. Do not remove the leaves. They will produce food and strengthen the bulb so that it can flower again next year.

The plant can now be treated like any other houseplant. As warm weather returns, the plant can be placed outdoors. The key to success with the amaryllis is to keep the foliage alive so that it will feed the bulb.

Reflowering the Bulb

In late summer, gradually reduce watering so that the leaves die down. When the leaves have died completely, cut them off. Store the bulb, in its container, in an area with temperatures around 50F for 8-10 weeks. After the 8-10 weeks have elapsed, bring the bulb into a warm room with good light and resume watering. Follow the growing directions described above under "Selecting and Caring for the Amaryllis Bulb".

 

October - November 2001: Preparing Plants for Winter | Heating with Wood Needs Care and Consideration | Amaryllis for Winter Beauty | Understanding Fall Color |

Past Issues

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