The amaryllis is a tropical, perennial plant native to South America. It grows from a bulb and produces showy blooms between December and June. Because it is not a cold hardy plant, it is cultivated indoors during the cold, winter months. It will readily bloom inside provided it receives proper care. Over-watering is the most common cause of plant failure.
Watering and Fertilizing
When the plant is actively growing, it should be kept evenly moist. This is especially important once the buds appear. It is best to water from the bottom to ensure even moisture. Set the pot into a pan or sink of water. The water should come about halfway up the pot. Remove when the soil at the top is just damp. Do not leave the pot in the water until the soil is water logged.
Amaryllis can be fertilized about every three weeks. Use a water soluble fertilizer at half strength. Never fertilize a plant that is not actively growing.
The stem can grow to about two feet tall and sport large buds. This makes the plant top heavy causing the stem to fall over. It is best to provide a stake for support. A slender rod, such as a chopstick, should be carefully pushed into the soil. Take care not to pierce the bulb. Fasten a thin piece of wire to the stake and make a loop that is long enough to go around the stem and back to the stake. The loop does not need to touch the stem. It is only there to prevent the stem from falling over.
While the stem is growing, keep in bright, indirect light. Rotate the plant every few days to make sure all sides receive adequate light. Keep out of direct sunlight, especially when the plant begins to flower.
Heat and light are destructive to the delicate blossoms. If possible, keep the plant at about 65 degrees and out of bright light. Remove each withered blossom close to the stem. This prevents the plant from wasting energy making seeds.
When the amaryllis has finished blooming, cut the stem off to about two inches above the bulb. Care for amaryllis flowers as for any other houseplant. It will now begin to grow more leaves. This period of growth is important so that it can rebuild and store the energy necessary for next year’s flowers. About six months of growth is required to store enough energy to flower again. When summer arrives, the plant can be put outside in a sunny location. Keep the soil moist and fertilize every few weeks.
As autumn approaches, the leaves will yellow and die. Bring inside before the first frost. Cut the leaves back and allow the plant to rest. Stop watering until signs of new growth are noticed. Provide the same type of care as when starting a bulb. The reward for knowing how to care for amaryllis flowers is gorgeous blooms year after year.
- Amaryllis Year-Round Care: http://www.rochestergardening.com/bulbs/amrylcar.html
- Amaryllis Planting and Care: http://www.amaryllis.com/planting-and-care