Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Re-blooming Amaryllis Bulbs

Growing Amaryllis!

These bulbs are prized for their willingness to produce large and colorful blooms indoors in the fall (South African Amaryllis) or in the dead of winter (Dutch Amaryllis).

POTTING THE BULBS: Pot bulbs individually in 6-7in pots or group 3 bulbs together in a 10-12in container. Begin by placing a well-drained potting mix in a plastic tub. Slowly add warm water and stir with your hand until the mix is moist but not soggy. Then fill the pot about half full with potting mix, set the bulb on top of the mix and fill in around the bulb with additional mix. Adjust the position of the bulb as needed, so that the top third of the bulb is exposed. The final level of the mix should be about 1/2in below the rim of the pot to allow for watering. Firm the mix and water lightly to settle it around the bulbs.

PRE-BLOOM CARE OF AMARYLLIS: Place the pot where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow. Providing bottom heat (by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator) may help stimulate growth. Water only when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Watering more frequently, particularly just after potting, can cause the bulb to rot.

Growth generally begins in 2-8 weeks. Certain varieties of Amaryllis may take more time to sprout. As long as your bulb remains firm, be patient and take care not to overwater. Provide ample sunshine (a south-facing window or a sunroom) as soon as the bulb sprouts. Rotate the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light.

REBUILDING THE BULB: After flowering, your bulb is exhausted. If you want flowers next year (many people prefer simply to purchase new bulbs every fall), you must allow it to rebuild itself. After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5 inches above the bulb, BUT DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF. THEY PRODUCE FOOD THAT WILL BE STORED IN THE BULB. Put your plant in a sunny window (a south-facing one is best), water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month. When the danger of frost has passed in spring, set the pot outdoors in full sun or knock the bulb out of its pot and plant it in the ground in a sunny location. In fall -- we often wait until frost blackens the leaves -- bring the bulb indoors, cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store it dry in a cool (55°F), dark place such as a basement for 8-10 weeks. Then pot (or repot) the bulb and water it. Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges, and follow the instructions for potting bulbs.

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