In bloom today: Amaryllis

9 01 2011

My friend Karen gave me this Amaryllis plant a few months ago and it is almost completely in bloom today (three out of five blossoms have opened!). Amaryllis bulbs originated in the Andes mountains of South America. The bulbs are tender, so they can only be grown outdoors in Zones 9-11. They are one of the easiest bulbs to force indoors. The term ‘forcing’ refers to inducing a plant to grow (shoot, leaf and flower) ahead of its natural schedule and out of its natural environment.

The plant needs a well-lit and warm place to grow, but after the buds begin to open, move the plant to a cool and shady location to keep the blooms longer. When the flowers begin to wilt, cut them off at the top of the stalk. Cut the stalk just above the bulb when it begins to droop. Water and fertilize as normal until the leaves turn yellow, then cut the leaves back two inches from the top of the bulb. Remove the bulb and store in a cool dark place for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. You can repot the bulb after that and begin the whole (bloomin’) process all over again!

I took advantage of Target’s after-Christmas 75% off sale and have added another Amaryllis plant to the kitchen window sill (not blooming yet) and two pots with Paper White Narcissus bulbs. I grew Paper Whites two years ago and learned quite a bit about the process. My favorite Narcissus photograph and that experience can be seen on my blog here

Paper White stalks can get quite leggy and often require staking. I just learned how alcohol (vodka, tequila, whiskey or rubbing alcohol) can keep Paper Whites from falling over here.  

Isn’t it ironic that alcohol makes people fall over but plants stay upright?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.