Lea: Caring for holiday amaryllis is easy

Lea: Caring for holiday amaryllis is easy

December 15th, 2012 By Pat Lea in Life Entertainment

Q. I have a new amaryllis bulb and know nothing about care for this. What does my huge and exotic gift need?

A. Amaryllis bulbs produce one of the most extravagant flowers in the plant world. Even the size of the bulb can be extraordinary.

Luckily for gardeners, like many bulbs, these exotics are relatively easy to care for and require only a small amount of attention. A healthy bulb produces blooms once a year.

You have received a plant that is blooming and it prefers a warm location in your house and as sunny a window as you can supply. The bloom will last for many weeks and then, as it withers and dies back, you can cut the flower stem close to the base.

Keep the bulb and its foliage in a bright sunny location for as long as the foliage remains green. Keep the bulb slightly moist. Do not overwater the plant. Amaryllis prefer to be pot bound so there is no need for repotting.

Allow the foliage to "ripen." Amaryllis need a dormant period so allow the foliage to droop and eventually dry as you lessen the water allowance. Then place the bulb in a cool area with little sun. Your bulb can rest (some new cultivars require less dormant time than others) for several months. Usually by late summer you will notice the tips of new growth emerging. Begin to increase the water supply and place the plant in full sun.

Fertilize lightly every two weeks with a flowering plant fertilizer and your amaryllis may surprise you with another year of fabulous blooms.

Email Pat Lea at lea.pat@gmail.com.