I suppose it’s partly the fascination of this huge bud emerging from a dry bulb? Or maybe the rapid growth of the fleshy, upright flower stem? Or the size of those gorgeous, exotic blooms, when they finally open from the large beak-like buds? Then there’s always the chance of a second flower stem, or maybe a third? Whatever it is there’s something about the excitement of amaryllis that we never tire.
I think the image of that amaryllis bulb in a box, complete with compost and pictures promising large scarlet, pink or white flowers can have a rather retro-nostalgic appeal. I remember it from childhood: the perfect present for granny purchased from the shelf in a housewares store or garden shop. Seeing elegant vases of exotic amaryllis in hotel receptions, and pictures in glossy magazines today seems far removed from this winter pot plant of yesteryear. As a cut flower and a growing plant the amaryllis has become trendy, contemporary and designer. I am always blown away by the works of art the Dutch create with them at shows and exhibitions. They have become one of the essentials of winter floral decoration, alongside aspidistra leaves and ilex branches.
Today a far wider range of colours and exotic varieties are available to everyone to grow in their own home. They make wonderful gifts for anyone that enjoys watching a living plant growing, and anyone with a love of beautiful flowers. You can even buy them gift boxed with the pot and compost. All you need to do is to put the ingredients together, add a little water and wait; and that wait won’t be too long!
So what are the secrets of success? Is an amaryllis a one season wonder? Can you get amaryllis bulbs to rebloom? Will it do it as well as another year as it did the first time?
Whether you buy your amaryllis bulbs as dry bulbs on their own, or you buy one in a gift box with pot and compost, you should pot it up as soon as possible. Hold the amaryllis bulb in the pot so that the top third of the amaryllis bulb will be above the surface of the compost. Spread out the fleshy roots in the pot, then work that compost inbetween the roots and around the amaryllis bulb to hold it firmly in position in the pot. Then place the pot in a saucer or pot cover and water the compost; enough to moisten it but not saturate it.
Now place the pot on a sunny windowsill. This is one plant you can start off on a shelf or windowsill over a radiator; a little bottom heat will help to get it going! Most amaryllis bulbs are prepared before sale. In other words they are kept cool and dry for a few weeks, so that they start into growth quickly when you pot them up. Now all you have to do is wait, keep the soil moist, and watch out that the plant does not become top heavy and topple over when that flower stem grows. Placing the pot in a heavy pot cover helps. Have a thin cane or a knitting needle handy to lend support if necessary.
When the flowers start to open moving the amaryllis into a cooler position will the blooms to last longer. When the flowers eventually fade remove them. Some tell you to leave the flower stem in place because it helps to build up the bulb; I cut it off when the flowers have faded because it looks ridiculous. The leaves will now develop, so keep watering and feed with a liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed once every week or so.
Keep it in a cool, light position until danger of frost has passed, and then stand your amaryllis outside in a sunny position on the patio. Keep watering and feeding through the summer months. At the end of the summer the leaves should start to deteriorate. If they don’t, tip the pot on its side and hold back on the watering. When the leaves have wilted cut them off level with the top of the bulb. Now is the time to repot your amaryllis bulbs, making sure there are no insects or earthworms in the compost. Use multi-purpose compost with loam and added grit if possible. Then move the plant indoors and don’t water. Don’t feel sorry for it and be tempted; if you do it may well just produce leaves.
You can start watering again when a flowerbud emerges from the bulb, and now we are back to stage one! If you follow that cycle your amaryllis should rebloom every year, and you will get many years of pleasure from it.
A final word: always buy the biggest and best quality amaryllis bulb available. However the size of the bulb does vary according to variety. Some of the exotic and unusual amaryllis have smaller bulbs, so don’t be too disappointed when you open the box.
Whether you have grown an amaryllis before or not why not treat yourself or a friend: choose from our wonderful range and buy on line right now! Heart-stoppingly beautiful results guaranteed!