Planting Amaryllis in Your Home Garden
Amaryllis is a rather nice-blossoming perennial bulbous plant. It comes from Africa. Amaryllis plant has linear-linguiform leaves. Big flowers with perfect fragrance are located on the firm flower stalks. Big bulbs can form 1 or 2 flower stalks with 6-12 flowers of white, pink and red color. The flowers make up inflorescences that form splendid amaryllis bouquets. The true amaryllis blossoms in autumn. Nowadays it is rather popular and you can find amaryllis bulbs for sale in every florist shop, as well as amaryllis seeds.
Amaryllis is a heat-loving plant. It is not grown in the open soil, it does not tolerate cold wintering. Planting amaryllis should be done very carefully. Amaryllis belladonna – “amaryllis the beauty” – is grown in house. By the way, it is the only kind, which is referred to as amaryllis plants. All hybrid forms of this flower are usually considered amaryllis Hippeastrum flowers (knight’s-star). Hippeastrum’s flowers are bigger (up to 15 cm in diameter), the flowers’ coloring can be different, even striped, flower stalks are fistular. Amaryllis bulbs are pear-shaped, rather big. Hippeastrum amaryllis bulbs are more round and slightly flattened, but it is hard to distinguish one type of amaryllis bulbs from the other. So, in order to buy exactly the amaryllis, not the amaryllis hippeastrum, the planting stock should be bought in specialized shops in packages with the manufacturer’s label. The amaryllis bulbs can be stored in a dry place for a long time.
We should mention other species of flower amaryllis family: red amaryllis (or amaryllis red lion), amaryllis Minerva, white amaryllis, blue amaryllis and so on.
GROWING AMARYLLIS FLOWER
If you wonder how to grow amaryllis, we can say that we usually get amaryllis plant for the first time already growing in the pot. You can also buy amaryllis plant in the florist’s already planted or in the form of amaryllis bulbs which you are to plant yourself. Growing amaryllis is rather simple.
If the pot with amaryllis plant was in quiescence when being very rarely watered and kept in a cool place at +13-15 degrees, then in order to induce it for vegetation the plant should be brought in the warm room with the temperature of +20-25 degrees and put in the light place. The beginning of vegetation depends on when we want to obtain a blossoming plant. The most luxuriant flowers can be at the beginning of vegetation not before March.
A flower stalk appearing from the bulb will tell you that the vegetation period has started. Attention! Don’t make a mistake! Until the flower stalk is 10 cm long, amaryllis should not be watered. If you start earlier the stalk will grow slowly, it is the leaves that will grow fast, and, consequently, the plant will have less strength for blossoming. Further watering should be made as the earth lump dries with warm settled water near the edge of the pot in the way that prevents water from getting to the bulb. In this period the flower must be fertilized once a fortnight so that the bulb couldn’t weaken.
Amaryllis flowers usually blossom when they are leafless. Leaves appear only during blossoming. After blossoming finishes, when the flower stalks become dry, leaves should not be cut, and the plant should be fertilized for some time. Then fertilizing and watering should be reduced, and after two months the plants must be watered only occasionally. The plant goes into a quiescent state. The desirable temperature in this period is cool but not lower than +10 degrees. The plant does not need bright light during this period either. The quiescent state lasts for about 3 months, after which the plant can be put to forcing treatment. Alteration of quiescent periods and periods of growth is important. In this way, the plant does not weaken and blossoms year after year. Many floriculturists note that even if you don’t create special conditions for quiescence and leave the amaryllis plant on the light windowsill you still can get flowers, but it is better for the plant to create conditions that are close to conditions of its natural growth, in this case, you can expect active growing and new generations.
Amaryllis is a perennial plant and they should not be transplanted every year. It will be enough to change the upper layer trying not to damage the roots and not to cover the bulb more than to the level it was covered before. The plant can be transplanted once in 3-4 years or when the bulblets are to be separated.
Transplantation is made after blossoming finishes and the flower stalk becomes dry. The soil for planting is composed of equal parts of deciduous, turfy, humus earth and sand or bought in the shop for bulbous plants. The bulb which was taken from the old pot must be cleaned from rotten roots and dry squama, from bullets that are formed in the pockets of outside squama of a maternal plant. The bulb prepared in this way is planted one for a pot, not less than 1/3 of the bulb’s height should be on the surface. Even 1/2 of the bulb can be left on the surface. The pot must have a drainage layer, and it will be good to put a layer of sand under the bulb’s bottom. Amaryllis does not like when the water stagnates. It is better to forget about watering this flower on time than to overwater it. The pot should not be very big. 3cm of free space from the side of the bulb to the edge of the pot will be enough.
There are special methods to achieve amaryllis rebloom. Making your plant bring flowers again is a subject for a separate discussion, and we will talk about it later.
REPRODUCTION OF AMARYLLIS FLOWER.
All bulbous plants: hippeastrum, amaryllis, lily, tulip, and others can be reproduced by daughter bulbs, which are separated from the maternal plant during transplantation. It is the simplest way of reproduction for these plants. Planting daughter bulbs is the same as planting maternal plant during transplantation: the same earth composition and the same height of bulb planting. The pot must be taken considering the size of the adult bulb. Young plants grow fast and in two years they reach the size of the maternal bulb. And you should not transplant amaryllis very often.
The second way of reproducing amaryllis is by amaryllis seeds. In order to get seeds, you should use cross-pollination of amaryllis flowers with the brush and let them ripen. The process of seeds’ ripening lasts about one month, after that, they must be planted in the soil and watered properly because the soil must be damp. In about a month young growth will appear. When the plants grow up, they should be planted by one in small pots.
When reproducing by daughter bulbs you can get a blossoming plant on the third year when growing from seeds amaryllis can blossom only on the seventh year.
OTHER PLANTS RESEMBLING AMARYLLIS FLOWER.
First of all, it is a vast family of Hippeastrum hybrid forms. They blossom with big funnel-form flowers of red, orange, pink coloring with stripes. Hippeastrums are not fragrant, they have fewer flowers than amaryllis plant.
Vallota purpurea has long dark-green leaves, the flower stalk of 25 cm in height. It blossoms with red flowers which are gathered in the umbel.
Nerine is a rare plant. The leaves are ribbon up to 35 cm long. The flowers on long pedicles look like lilies with long stamens. It usually blossoms at the end of summer.
A low bulbous plant with big purple-red flowers – sprekelia formosissima – resembles amaryllis too. This plant is suitable for early forcing treatment.
If you’ve ever seen the massive size of a six-pointed amaryllis bloom, you won’t soon forget it. These eight-to-ten-inch blooms come in a variety of colors including red, pink, orange, salmon, white and bi-colors. Doubles and miniatures are also available.
There couldn’t be a more foolproof indoor plant to grow than amaryllis, and they’re all the more welcome because they generally bloom in mid to late winter. The flower is started from bulbs that are nearly the size of grapefruit. The large the bulbs, the larger and more numerous the flowers. Bulbs are commonly sold in pre-planted starter kits.
To start a bulb, plant it in a loose planting mix. Use a pot that’s only slightly larger than the bulb, and position the bulb halfway out of the soil. Water thoroughly and allow to drain. When soil is two-thirds dry, put plants on a watering routine. Expose plants to at least a half-day of bright light, and fertilize once a month.
On standard-sized amaryllis, the flower stem emerges before the leaves, grows rapidly to a height of 12 to 24 inches, and begins a sequence of blooms that last about a month. After bloom, cut the flower stem off just above the top of the bulb but don’t cut the leaves.
If you’re growing amaryllis plants to produce blooms for years to come, water them as you would any houseplant for the remainder of the winter. During the summer, you can keep plants indoors in bright light, or set them outside. Be sure to continue fertilizing. Put plants out after all danger of frost is past, and bury pots in a partially shaded location. In early September, bring plants indoors, and stop watering.
Cut old, yellowed or dried foliage from the bulbs and allow them to rest in darkness for a month before you repot them in fresh soil and resume watering to initiate blooms.