Photo: Midpath (flickr)
During the holiday season many of us may be giving or receiving an amaryllis bulb as a gift. These plants we grow indoors in pots, are just one member of the amaryllis family and are South American natives. Many of the South American Indian tribes used amaryllis sap to make poisonous arrows.
The name is from a Greek word meaning “to shine” and the genus is “Hippeastrum” because the buds resemble the ears of a horse.
Planting and Cutting
After the bulbs are planted, most will flower within 8 to 12 weeks. The blooms are spectacular. Some experts suggest cutting off the stamens to make the flowers last longer.
After the blooms fade, cut off the flower stalks and encourage leaf growth by giving the plants as much light as possible and fertilize monthly. Set the plant outdoors next summer in a spot that gets afternoon shade.
The bulb requires a dormant period to bloom again, so in early fall let the plant dry out and place it in a dark spot that is about 50 degrees. Ten to twelve weeks later you can place the pot near a window in the house and start watering, after you have removed the dead foliage.
As the bulbs push up the flower stalks, turn the pot occasionally to keep the stalks growing straight. You may need a stake when the buds develop, so that the blossoms are supported. An amaryllis bulb is a gift that keeps on giving.