Growing Gorgeous Amaryllis Indoors
By Monica Resinger

Amaryllis flowers are gorgeous, and they come at a perfect time of year -- when our (some of us) gardens are sleeping!

My neighbor has had his Amaryllis for about 10 years. He showed them to me one day and I couldn't believe my eyes! In his windowed laundry room, there stood the biggest Amaryllis bulbs, flowers and leaves I have ever seen! They were giants! I know Amaryllis can get pretty big, but I never imagined this big. I'd say the leaves were about 2 1/2" wide or more and 4 feet or more tall. The flowers were probably double what we're used to seeing and same with the bulbs. I didn't know they could get that big! At that point, I didn't even know they could be grown for flowers year to year. Now I know differently and I'll tell you what I have learned.

Planting.

Late October is the ideal time to plant, after the bulbs have gone
through a dormant period. If there are off shoots, you can take them off and plant them as new plants. Use a small pot in relation to the bulb size. Clay or ceramic pots would be best because they are heavier and will help keep the plant from toppling over. Give only an inch of room for soil on the sides of the bulb. Amaryllis prefers a sandy-loam soil mix. You can mix your own by combining one part leaf mold or composted manure, one part loamy soil, and one part coarse sand. Some garden centers also sell soil mixes especially for bulbs. When you plant the bulb, keep the upper half out of the soil.

Water

Water thoroughly after planting and keep the soil slightly moist
until flowering. At flowering, increase waterings to prolong
flowers. The blooms will last 6-8 weeks depending on temperature, light and variety.

Light and Temperature

When grown in the home, Amaryllis need as much sun as they can get! A southern window is best. They prefer 70-75 degrees for best growth. But when the plant begins to flower, cooler temperatures (60-65 degrees) will extend the blooms. As mentioned above, my neighbor had his in his windowed laundry room. The windows were southern and western which means lots of sun. One more important tip is that a laundry room produces humidity so this is something else they like.

Fertilizer.

Fertilize at half the recommended rate of any water-soluble
fertilizer every 6 weeks or so. Fertilizer will determine the size
and quality of flowers and foliage.

After Flowering.

Good quality bulbs may produce up to six flowers on a single stalk. When a flower fades, cut the stalk about 2" from the base. This will save energy for the other flowers. Don't cut the foliage because this is next year's food for next year's flowers. Keep watering and fertilizing the foliage as you would before flowering until next September. At this point, put the plant into a warm, dark and dry place such as a closet. Don't water or fertilize during this rest period. Then late October, move it back to the sunny window and start the process all over again.

When properly cared for, Amaryllis can flower for up to 75 years! So take care of yours for years of gorgeous flowers.

Copyright, 2000, Monica Resinger

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Monica Resinger is editor/founder of Creative Gardening
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