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Amaryllis

By, Kathryn Courtney

It’s Amaryllis bulb time at Maas! I’m not one to push the holiday season but when the amaryllis bulbs come in I get that warm, comforting holiday feeling. Amaryllis bulbs are great for our gulf coast area. You can plant them in decorative pots for your tabletop or mantle. After your amaryllis bloom, they can go straight to the garden. No need to worry about freezing for most varieties and they are very carefree. For me, picking out only one or two varieties a year is the hardest part of the amaryllis experience. You can choose from solid red, white or pink. Pick double or single, or fat or thin petaled amaryllis types. Choose stripes, flowers with different colored throats or sparkling petals. The choices seem endless. Right now I’m preferring the sparkling ones but that may change tomorrow. Choose large bulbs for more flower stalks when the blooms appear.

Once you have chosen your bulbs decide whether you are going to plant them outdoors or in a pot for inside. If you decide on a pot, think about how many bulbs you want to plant. Amaryllis get big so the pot needs to be big enough for your number of bulbs. The pot doesn’t need to be deep but make sure it is wide enough to accommodate the blooms. You can pick any kind of decorative type planter. Make sure it has holes in the bottom or is deep enough to keep water from actually touching the bulb. Also, the planter needs to be heavy enough to hold the blooming amaryllis and big enough that the bulbs do not touch each other. I use some regular, well-draining potting soil and some green Microlife fertilizer in my amaryllis pots. Plant your bulb with the shoulders exposed. This means the top of your bulb is above the dirt. I love this part of planting amaryllis because you can instantly see when the first leaves emerge. Water sparingly until you see the leaves, then water more as the plant begins to grow. Once the flower stalks appear the plant grows very quickly. I always stake my amaryllis flower stalks as they can become very top heavy when the flowers bloom.  I use bamboo stakes and green gardeners tape but you can make the stakes more decorative if you like. Different types of amaryllis take different amounts of time to bloom. If you are trying to have blooms around the holiday’s research how long it takes the different varieties of bulbs to bloom. An average flowering time is seven to ten weeks although some types will bloom in six weeks. After the blooms die, cut the flowering stalk back to an inch and a half above the bulb. Leave the leaves on the plant to allow the bulb to build up nutrition for the next year.

 

 At this stage, my bulbs always go out to a designated spot in my garden. I love the way amaryllis look when planted in groups. I carefully remove the bulb from the pot, dirt and all, and plant it in the garden at the same height it was planted in the pot. Do not plant your amaryllis deep. This causes the bulb to rot. My amaryllis garden is also in a raised bed so the bulbs never sit in water. Good drainage is essential for the success of your bulbs. After this step, my bulbs are pretty much ignored until the leaves start to die back the next fall. Sometimes I cut the leaves back to about three inches above the bulb at this point but you don’t have to. It does keep the garden looking a little neater. Fertilize the bulbs and wait for the cycle to start over again.

 

Amaryllis have definitely become my favorite bulbs by far. They are extremely carefree and hardy, always give me a great bloom show and the leaves are pretty in the garden even when they are not in bloom. Mine have survived the Harvey flood with flying colors and I am eagerly awaiting my next blooms. Come see the new selection of fall bulbs including amaryllis bulbs at Maas this month. Bulbs are a great thing to add to your garden.