Caring for your Amaryllis.

December 26, 2011 at 10:09 AM Leave a comment

7 Ways to Enjoy Amaryllis Flowers and Bulbs

By , Guide

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Grow, Give, and Display this Flamboyant Flower
7 Ways to Enjoy Amaryllis Flowers and BulbsThe amaryllis is a versatile flower.

Photo © Liz West

When amaryllis plants and bulbs start appearing on nursery and store shelves during the holiday season, they create a sense of wonder and wariness in shoppers: Wow, these are fantastic! What in the heck do I do with these giant flowers on a stem? Here are seven ways to get the most out of these tropical flowering bulbs.

1. Try New Amaryllis VarietiesWhile most consumers are familiar with the large red amaryllis varieties sold at Christmastime, there are smaller flowers that are equally exquisite, and softer colors that are just as stunning:

  • Appleblossom: White flowers with pink brushstrokes and green throats.
  • Chico: Spidery starburst blooms feature burgundy and green petals.
  • Naughty Lady: This dwarf variety will produce up to 12 flowers per bulb, each red with white throats.
  • Snow White: Fully double white flowers on two-foot tall stems.
  • United Nations: Giant flowers sport red and white candy cane stripes.

2. Give Amaryllis as GiftsReceiving an amaryllis bulb kit is a no-brainer gift during the winter holidays, even if the recipient has a brown thumb or lives in a small apartment. Amaryllis kits contain a blooming-size bulb, a pot, a package of soil or a soil disc, and growing instructions. Six to eight weeks after planting, the bulb will produce one or two stems with large flowers per stem. The kits are cheerful alternatives to the typical bakery platters teachers and co-workers seem to be inundated with in December.

Compare Prices3. Group Amaryllis in Pots

Because of their stature, a single amaryllis specimen standing alone in a pot can look like a lonely lollipop. However, groups of three or five amaryllis bulbs in large pots create an explosion point of color that bring weeks of cheer into your home during the darkest months of winter.

Choose a round or square pot rather than a rectangular pot; you want to avoid that “soldiers in a row” look when the plants begin to grow. Plant the bulbs as close as you can without allowing them to touch one another.

4. Plant Amaryllis OutdoorsIf you live in a frost-free area, zones 9-11, you can grow amaryllis in your landscape. This requires an investment, as amaryllis bulbs look best outdoors when planted in drifts of a dozen or more:

  • You can plant the bulbs in the fall or early winter.
  • Choose a site with well-drained soil in full or partial sun.
  • Plant the bulbs one foot apart with their necks protruding from the soil.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer every other month during the spring and summer.
  • Deadhead flowers to promote future blooming.

5. Get New Amaryllis Blooms Each YearEven if you grow amaryllis as a houseplant, you can coax it to rebloom each year with a few care tips. When the bulb finishes blooming, remove the flower stalk. Keep the plant in a sunny window until all danger of frost is past. Move the plant outdoors for the spring and summer. When first frost is predicted, move the plant to a cool garage or shed for two months. Move the plant back to its sunny window, keeping it warm and moist. Within a month the new flower stalk should begin to emerge.

6. Propagate AmaryllisGardeners can make more amaryllis plants through seeds or bulb offsets. Seeds take longer to produce flowers and may not produce the same blooms as the parent, so bulb offsets are the preferred propagation method. Dig bulbs from their pots or the ground in the fall after their first growing season. Break off any small bulblets that have developed, and plant them in containers or outdoors in frost free zones. Blooms may occur after two years.

7. Use Amaryllis in Cut Flower ArrangementsInclude amaryllis flowers in your holiday flower arrangements so you can soften their impact with a variety of filler flowers and greenery. If you are buying amaryllis stems that are already cut from the florist, choose flowers that are just about to open. Condition the flowers in warm water for two hours, and keep the flowers above 40 degrees F.

If you will arrange amaryllis in a clear vase, wrap the base of the stems in clear waterproof tape to prevent unsightly splitting and curling. Brides using amaryllis flowers at their winter wedding receptions may use live blooming plants in pots to send home with guests as a favor.

Jamie McIntosh

Jamie McIntosh
Flowers Guide


Entry filed under: Green Information.

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