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Saturday, December 6, 2008

The fascinating amaryllis

Do you grow amaryllis during the holiday season? I always buy one or two and I really enjoy watching them grow. It amazes to see the big fat bulb sprout and start to grow rapidly before exploding into a massive bloom. Most amaryllis are sold with the advertisement of being in bloom by Christmas. This has never happened for me and my blooms are always late. This year I decided to order a bulb from the reputable John Scheepers Inc. I selected "Floris Hecker" which is supposed to be "velvety red" and very floriferous. The red ones are my favorite. The bulb arrived much later than I expected and there is no way it will be blooming by Christmas day. That doesn't really matter that much to me because flowers in January are always welcome.

If you have never grown an amaryllis, they are very easy! You can buy them already in a pot or if you choose to pot it up yourself, choose a pot that is only an inch or two larger than the bulb. Plant it so that the neck of the bulb sits out of the soil. Place it in a warm sunny area like a south or west facing window (temperatures in the 70 degree range are ideal). Keep it watered well and it will start to grow. In about seven or ten weeks, you should have blooms. The plant can then be moved to a cooler area, out of direct sun, so that the blooms will last longer. It is advisable to stake the tall stalks so that they won't topple over.

Amaryllis can be saved for next year although I confess I've never had success with this. The bulbs can be planted outdoors in the spring and grown there until fall when they need to be dug up and brought indoors. When the leaves begin to yellow, cut them back and store the bulb in a dark place for six weeks before bringing it back out and starting the cycle over again.

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22 comments:

  1. Hi, Phillip--I've had pretty good luck with having blooms by Christmas, but then I buy them at local nurseries (so I don't have to wait). Mine come back, too, but not at Christmas--once they're outside, they revert to their natural cycles and come up in summer like other plants. Still, they're very cool plants--and as you said, it's wonderful to have huge colorful blooms in January!

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  2. It's OK that they do not always bloom for Christmas, as if we need another distraction at that time of year. I will gladly take a January bloom.

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  3. I don't grow them but I do like them. If I had more light in the house I would have them every year.

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  4. This is one of those plants that I've never grown. Don't know why. Your information is helpful.

    Cameron

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  5. Phillip...You answered all my questions! If only we could leave them out all year they would be welcome here! I will be enjoying your blooms in January...my kitty likes to chew on plants so we don't have any inside! Gail

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  6. Phillip, I've been growing these for years, and they are one of my favorites. I purposely grow mine so that they will bloom after Christmas when all the decorations are down, and the house is looking a little bare. I am looking forward to seeing your new one in bloom.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  7. I've always loved Amaryllis, but this year is the first time I decided to try some myself. Mine had grown a bit more than yours already at the time of purchase, but I still have no idea when they'll bloom. Perhaps the room temp, as you mention, is also critical? Anyway, I am just excited to see the lovely red flowers, be it xmas or afterwards.

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  8. Hey Phillip - we're pretty similar in terms of zone, and every Hippaestrum I've ever forced for Christmas (I always take one to my parents) has been planted and left in the garden as a perennial - I can't recall ever having lost one. I throw on some mulch at this time of year, but other than that, they rebloom reliably every April. There's a house down the street with an entire bed of them out front that stops traffic when they bloom. Just something for you to try; I agree that carrying them over as houseplants from year to year is not very satisfying. If the larger hybrids aren't hardy for you, I'm sure Hippaestrum x johnsonii would be - sometimes it's called St. Joseph's lily.

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  9. Thanks Phillip! I hope you guys are doing well :) It's been a while since I've seen you. Are you finished putting up the Christmas decor?

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  10. Mine were outside all summer. I just brought them in in mid October;) I'll get mine started again in March so they bloom inside and can go back out.
    Marnie

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  11. I've grown them occasionally and always enjoyed them. But my problem comes after they are finished blooming. I never know where to put them in the garden because design-wise they look like sore thumbs there. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on how you fit them into the garden design.

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  12. Hi Phillip, wonderful tutorial on growing these. I used to grow them, and never got them to rebloom, then got into the orchids and that was the end of them for me. I order from Van Engelen, same thing as Scheepers only for larger numbers of bulbs and have been very happy with everything from them for twenty years now.

    Frances

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  13. I almost bought one yesterday and may go back after reading this post. I got a Christmas cactus instead. It will probably bloom at Thanksgivng or April..who knows.

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  14. I have a few amaryllis from other years out in the garden now, and you're talking me into looking for a new one, Phillip.

    Back in IL we'd buy one for the dining room table each year and keep a ruler handy. The kids were amazed that they could measure the growth each night.

    Getting them to live over isn't too hard, but getting them to rebloom was trickier!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  15. Hi Phillip. Don't give up on keeping your amaryllis! They are my favorite flower and I have amassed a collection of them. I plant them outside every summer and pretty much ignore them until I have to bring them in before frost. They've made babies, too!

    I just love them and so many new varieties have come out in the last couple of years.

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  16. Phillip, I was just over to your web site. I clicked on the link to Article "Ten Roses for Shade" (or something like that), but the link did not work. Thought you want to know about that. I have a lot of shade here, so that was of interest to me. I need more roses!

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  17. Barbee, thanks for letting me know about the broken link. The correct URL is http://www.phillipoliver.net/sgrosesshade.htm

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  18. You are very welcome, Phillip. I knew that if it were my blog, I would want to know. And, I appreciate your making sure I got your message with the correct link. Late today I will have more time to look at it. Must run for now.

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  19. I always wait till the last minute, get them really cheap and then have blooms in January. I also always just throw away the bulbs. I sort of think in the cost/benefit analysis mode when it comes to propagation!
    Aiyana

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  20. I used to save them and get them to rebloom year after year. And even got them to multiply. Then one year I got some kind of grub that eats out the center of the bulb and kills it. I was never able to save them after that. No matter what I did, they'd get those nasty wormy grubs. So I gave up.

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