Dig It! – Amaryllis
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
December 9, 2008
The holidays are all about expectation, color and lasting memories and so are amaryllis. These brown bulbs give way to spires that can be three feet tall in as little as five weeks and carry nine-inch-wide blossoms. They come in a wide range of colors and multicolors: white, pinks, peaches, velvety reds, and even yellows. There are miniatures, doubles, and mini-doubles; bold stripes, subtle edgings, and fluorescent blazes. Why not give one as a gift this year, even to yourself?
To pot an amaryllis bulb, soak the roots for about an hour. Then, using a pot about two inches wider than the bulb, put a few inches of soil in the pot and tamp firm (use another pot for this job). Put the bulb in the center of the pot and high enough that the neck of the bulb protrudes above the soil. Add soil around the bulb and firm down with fingertips. Water thoroughly. Keep it in a warm, bright spot and rotate frequently.
Bulbs may cost $10 to $15, with some exotics reaching the upper $20s. You can treat amaryllis as annuals and throw the bulbs out after their have bloomed or treat them like perennials and enjoy flowers for many years by following a few steps:
• Pinch off the blossoms as soon as they start to wither so the plant doesn't waste energy trying to produce seeds.
• After flowering, cut stalks to two to four inches. Put the pot in a warm sunny spot and water when the top of the soil feels dry. Fertilize once or twice a month with a balanced soluble fertilizer.
• Put the plant outside in full to nearly full sun after danger of frost has passed.
• As fall approaches, stop watering and feeding to force the plant into dormancy.
• Remove foliage after it turns yellow and dies down.
• Before first frost, put your potted bulb in a cool (50 to 60 degrees), dark, dry place, such as a basement.
• In November, bring your plant upstairs, and resume watering and feeding.
There are also amaryllis that grow in our outside flower gardens, but that's a subject for another article.
The Sage and Snow Garden Club will have its next meeting on January 13, 2009 in the Cooperative Extension Service office in Pinedale. Contact us at Box 2280, Pinedale, WY, 82941, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 307-859-8606. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to www.pindealeonline.com and click on the link under "clubs". Happy holidays to all!