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Amaryllis for the Holidays

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
December 3, 2014        
           
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns & Benton Counties

Release Date:  December 8, 2014

Amaryllis for the Holidays
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (12/3/14) — The poinsettia has been the long standing traditional holiday plant, but the amaryllis also has become a favorite blooming holiday houseplant. Amaryllis plants are one to two feet in height with six to ten inch trumpet shaped flowers.  They can a dash of beauty to your home with colors of red, salmon, pink, purple, white, and bicolor.  Amaryllis can make a wonderful gift for the holidays, and can be purchased as a blooming plant or a potted bulb. Little care is needed to get the bulb to bloom, and with a little nurturing and special care, the amaryllis bulbs can provide you with beautiful flowers for years to come.

One option is to purchase a bulb that is not potted, plant it in a pot that is about two inches greater in diameter than the bulb.  Plant the bulb so that the top one-third of the bulb extends from the potting mixture.  Use a good potting soil or soilless mixture that drains well.  Water it well and place the bulb in a cool place for a month or so until a shoot appears.  Then move it to bright light and fertilize it every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer mixed at one-half the label recommendation.

A blooming amaryllis will do best out of direct sunlight.  If you have a potted bulb, place it in a warm sunny spot until the flower buds show color, and then move it out of direct sunlight.  Placing the plant in a cooler location out of direct sunlight will help retain the blossoms. If you would like to keep your amaryllis after blooming, place it with other sun loving plants. 

Just like many other bulbs, the amaryllis plant will re-bloom the following year if you allow it to manufacture and store food in the bulb.  You will need to cut off the flowers to prevent seed formation after the flower begins to fade; the flower stalk does not need to be removed until it yellows.  Do not remove any of the leaves as this is what will be the food producer for the plant to begin storing up enough nutrients to bloom again next year. Place the amaryllis plant in a bright indoor location, water it thoroughly, yet allow it to dry between watering’s.  Never water the plant when the soil is already moist because wet soil will promote bulb rot. 

Keep the amaryllis indoors in a bright location until it is warm enough to move outside; at that time sink the pot into the soil.  The best initial placement is to put the plant in filtered sunlight and then gradually move it to full sun where it will receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day.  Continue to fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer at regular intervals to build up nutrients for blooming next year. 

In the fall bring the amaryllis indoors before the first frost and store the pots in a dark cool place; do not water.  Remove the leaves after they have become brown. The bulb will need to go through a resting period for approximately eight to twelve weeks and then can be forced to bloom again. Inspect the bulbs periodically and bring them into light if new growth begins to appear.  If not, you can force new growth by watering the soil thoroughly and placing the amaryllis back into a sunny location.

If the bulb does not produce a flower stalk, it has not stored enough nutrients during the post-blooming period, and the whole process will have to start over to try to force it to bloom the following year.  With a little work, the amaryllis bulb can produce a beautiful holiday plant for several years.  Happy Holidays!

Contacts

Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
adam0062@umn.edu
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