Amaryllis: A Welcome Winter Beauty

"Orange Sovereign" Amaryllis in full bloom, not as orangey as I expected, but still beautiful.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum), a beauty of a flower bulb from South America, sports huge colourful blooms that are a flashy treat in winter. A blooming amaryllis is part of my winter survival strategy. The stalk and flowers develop so quickly, you can almost watch it grow in real time.

Tips for Growing Amaryllis

• Buy heftiest bulbs you can find in fall and winter.

• Plant in pot just big enough to hold bulb with a bit of room to spare. Use a high quality potting mix, with organic matter. Three bulbs in a larger pot make an even greater show.

St. Joseph's Lily (Hippeastrum x johnsonii)

An older variety of amaryllis, St. Joseph's Lily (Hippeastrum x johnsonii)

• When potting, place top half of the bulb so it is exposed above the soil.

• Keep moist in warm area, while roots form. Only water the soil, not the bulb itself.

• Pointed flower scape will emerge first, followed by leaves. Water with fertilizer when leaves form, keep moist, but don’t over water.

• Keep cool and out of direct sunlight when in flower, to prolong the blooms.

• When flowers fade, cut off immediately. You don’t want the plant to develop a seed head, which would take energy away from the bulb.

• Keep in sunniest part of house in winter, and spring.You want to maximize the leaf growth which will build up the bulb for re-flowering.

white amaryllis

White Amaryllis

• When warm enough in spring, put pot with leaves outside and keep watering and feeding all summer.

• When leaves start dying down in fall, withhold water for six to eight weeks. October and November are good months to rest the bulb this way, and easy to remember if you choose these months every year. During the rest period they need a cool temperature, 12C (55F), so leaving outdoors through the fall is a good idea. Remember to bring pot back indoors if a frost threatens, as the bulbs are too tender to withstand a Canadian winter climate. Also keep the pot sheltered from rain.

• At end of dry, cool rest period, bring pot into warm area, and water. You may even see the beginnings of a flower stalk developing already for your next season of bloom.

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