Amaryllis has become one of the signature flowers of the Holiday Season. Either planted or in fresh-cut arrangement it’s a statement on its own.
Amaryllis is a small genus of flowering bulbs, with two species. The better known of the two, Amaryllis belladonna, is a native of the Western Cape region of South Africa. For many years there was confusion amongst botanists over the generic names Amaryllis and Hippeastrum, one result of which is that the common name “amaryllis” is mainly used for cultivars of the genus Hippeastrum, widely sold in the winter months for their ability to bloom indoors. Plants of the genus Amaryllis are known as Belladonna lily, Jersey lily, Naked lady, Amarillo or, in South Africa, March lily due to its ability to flower around March. This is one of numerous genera with the common name “lily” due to their flower shape and growth habit. However, they are only distantly related to the true lily, Lilium.
Amaryllis comes in many beautiful varieties including various shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. There are also many striped and multicolored varieties, usually combining shades of pink or red with white.
Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis is the easiest to bring to bloom. This can be accomplished indoors or out, and over an extended period of time.
Quick Tips for taking care of planted Amaryllis bulb:
- Planting Period: October until the end of April.
- Flowering Period: Late December until the end of June.
- Flowering time is 7-10 weeks.
- Larger bulbs produce more flowers.
- Always store un-planted bulbs in a cool place between 8-10 deg. Celsius.
Plant bulbs in nutritious potting compost, many are available pre-mixed. Plant the bulb up to its neck in the potting compost, being careful not to damage the roots. Plant the bulb, or place the potted bulb in a warm place with direct light since heat is necessary for the development of the stems. Water sparingly until the stem appears, then, as the bud and leaves appear, gradually water more. At this point, the stem will grow rapidly and flowers will develop after it has reached full growth. Bulbs will flower in 7-10 weeks as a general rule. In winter the flowering time will be longer than in spring.
After the amaryllis has stopped flowering, it can be made to flower again. Cut the old flowers from the stem after flowering, and when the stem starts to sag, cut it back to the top of the bulb.
Continue to water and fertilize as normal all summer, or for at least 5-6 months, allowing the leaves to fully develop and grow. When the leaves begin to yellow, which normally occurs in the early fall, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove the bulb from the soil. Clean the bulb and place it in a cool (8-10 deg. C), dark place such as the crisper of your refrigerator for a minimum of 6 weeks. After 6 weeks you may remove bulbs whenever you would like to plant them. Plant bulbs 8 weeks before you would like them to bloom.
Amaryllis as a fresh-cut flower is very popular in the winter months, especially during the Holiday season. It is used in bouquets, vase arrangements, for creating stunning centerpieces and statements.
Working with fresh-cut Amaryllis blooms can be tricky considering that the stem is hollow and tends to split and curl up when it’s cut. A little professional secret is to tape the stem at the place you are going to cut and then cut it, this way it won’t curl up.
Enjoy this amazing flower this season. Get some potted bulbs or order a fresh flower arrangement.
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