For a dazzling display of indoor color during the winter months, plant amaryllis bulbs in the fall.
The amaryllis blossom commands attention with its bold color and its 8-to-10-inch diameter. Each bulb usually produces two stems. Each stem can produce up to six blossoms. Consumers often see amaryllis in small pots for sale at garden stores during the holiday season. A festive amaryllis pot is a nice inexpensive gift for family or friends.
Amaryllis’ come in a variety of colors. Some of the more popular colors are fire engine red, bubblegum pink, sunset orange and pure white. Others are multicolored.
“When planting amaryllis, select a container that is no more than 2 inches wider than the bulb’s diameter,” said Mike McQueen, a regional horticulture agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Pots with bottom drainage holes are recommended.
Next, cover the drainage holes with pebbles or pieces of broken pottery, and fill the pot with several inches of pitting soil.
Center the bulb in the container and firm the soil around the roots and bulb base. Continue adding and firming the soil until two-thirds of the bulb is covered. Leave the remaining one-third of the bulb exposed.
Place the container on a saucer or in the sink and water the soil thoroughly. Let it stand until all the water has drained out. Then, put the container in a cool, bright location. No further watering will be necessary until the bulb begins to sprout.
“When signs of growth appear, move the container to a location where it will receive several hours of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but do not overwater,” McQueen said.
Once the flowers have blossomed, remove them from the bright sunlight to keep them fresh and prolong their life span.
When the flowers have faded, McQueen recommends returning the plant to bright sunlight and keeping the soil moist. “When the foliage turns yellow, the bulb is ready to go dormant. At this point, cut off the foliage to within 2 inches of the bulb and reduce watering.”
Allow the bulb to rest in a dark place for eight weeks before resuming the growing process.
The amaryllis bulb can be left in its original container for two or more years before repotting. When the bulb is eventually removed, the small bulblets attached to it can be separated and replanted in their own containers.