Sorry for the long delay between posts. We’ve had major technical difficulties with our blogs and they’ve all been down for several days.
Now back to gardening…
If you were a very good and diligent gardener and saved your amaryllis bulbs from last Christmas, now is the time to bring them inside and make them go dormant in time for another round of holiday blooms.
(photo from Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center)
Amaryllis bulbs need a good four to six weeks of dormancy before they’ll come into flower again. Stop watering them now and put them in a dark closet or basement for six weeks and forget about them. Just let the foliage die back on its own.
The key to getting them to rebloom from year to year is to treat them just like any other houseplant for the rest of the year. After the big flowers fade (just after the Christmas holidays if your timing is good), cut off the stalks but leave the green foliage to keep growing.
In late May, I put mine outdoors for the summer in an inconspicuous corner of the garden and ignore them till late September or early October. Definitely bring them in before the first frost.
Here’s a pot of three amaryllis bulbs that I bought last December and set outdoors in May.
And another that was in a really ugly plastic pot that I threw out. You can just stick the bare bulbs into the garden for the summer and then dig them up now and cut back the roots.
After six weeks in the dark, dump out an inch or so of topsoil around the bulb and replace with compost or good-quality potting soil. Then start watering again and wait six or eight weeks for your bulb to begin anew.
Want to know more about amaryllis? Here are excerpts from an article for the paper that I did last December:
“Each winter brings a new crowd of amaryllis admirers who have discovered how incredibly easy it is to grow these showy, almost gaudy bulbs. Just stick the bare bulb in a shallow pot with a little potting soil, add water and sunlight and you’re ready to go.
In six to 10 weeks, you’re rewarded with a blast of richly colored blooms atop long, sturdy stems. Red remains the traditional favorite, especially for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, but new varieties in shades of white, salmon and pink arrive from growers every fall. Bicolored shades of red and white have been big sellers in recent winters.
Amaryllis bulb production has more than doubled worldwide since the late 1990s, according to the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center. Most of the new production has been in South America, the bulb’s native continent.
That means many more amaryllis bulbs for North American households, especially early in the season.
Brazil now has nearly 500 acres devoted to commercial amaryllis production, up from almost none in the late 1990s. Many of the new growers are immigrants from Holland, which had been the worldwide leader for many years.
Commercial growers in Holland still use nearly 150 acres for amaryllis, down from a peak of about 250 acres. Two other production centers, Israel and South Africa, have remained steady at about 62 acres.
Many varieties these days are doubles – when one flower-covered stem begins to fade, another rises up to take its place and add several more weeks of bloom time.
Unlike other bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, amaryllis bulbs don’t need a cooling-down period of several weeks to set their blooms. Like paperwhites, they’re ready to begin growing as soon as they come home from the garden center or arrive
Amaryllis (known botanically as Hippeastrum) like to be potbound, so set the bulbs snugly into a shallow pot with a drainage hole. Use just enough potting soil so that the top third of the bulb sits above the soil. Give them bright light and a good drink of water to start, then water sparingly until green shoots begin to appear. (The soil should be dry to the touch about 1/2 -inch down from the surface.)
After they begin to grow, water regularly to keep the soil moist but never soggy.
When in full flower, move the plants out of direct sunlight to make the flowers last as long as possible. The cooler the room, the better.
Because amaryllis have all the food they need inside the bulb, you can also forgo soil completely and just set them into pebbles or stones. Add just enough water to keep the roots wet.
Amaryllis bulbs can live for decades, and it’s easy to maintain them from year to year.
Brent and Becky’s Bulbs 877-661-2852 www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com
Dutch Gardens 866-866-3780 www.dutchgardens.com
John Scheepers Inc. 860-567-0838 www.johnscheepers.com
Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center 802-293-2852 www.bulb.com
Van Bourgondien 800-622-9997 www.dutchbulbs.com
White Flower Farm 800-503-9624 www.whiteflowerfarm.com.