Sunday, December 28, 2008

Amaryllis Care for Repeat Blooms

Now that the first of the amaryllis to bloom are starting to fade, it's time to start grooming them to bloom again next Christmas. It's a really simple process, so here it is.....

After the blooms have finished, cut the stems to a couple of inches above the soil, put the pot with your other houseplants, and continue to water it and fertilize to encourage the strappy leaves to grow.

After danger of frost has gone, put the entire pot outside, in a shady spot for the first couple of weeks. After that, I just put the entire pot somewhere in my perennial bed where it gets a few hours of good sun every day, and forget about it for the rest of the summer. It gets watered when the rest of the bed gets watered. Since amaryllis likes to be pot bound, this works perfectly.

Around Labor Day, I tip the pot on its side and put it in a dry cool spot, to dry out. You'll feel compelled to add water, but dont'!

Six weeks before you want the amaryllis to bloom, trim the dead leaves back, start adding water and fertilizer to the bulb. If you want to move it into a decorative pot for the holidays, now is the time to do that, so you're not disturbing the blooming plant later. (Keep it pretty tightly potted, though). At this point, treat it like a houseplant and just watch it do its thing!

As flower buds start to show, water the amaryllis more frequently. Fertilizing during the bloom period is not necessary. If kept at a cool room temperature (65 degrees or so), amaryllis will bloom for three weeks.

Now that I've said all that, amaryllis is terribly unpredictable in its bloom cycle. I had five going this year, and all are living on different cycles, it seems.
One called "Lemon Sorbet" bloomed first, and was really spectacular during the beginning and middle of December. Two of the others (one "Piquant" and one "Apple Blossom") were blooming for Christmas. The last two (another "Piquant" and another "Apple Blossom") have yet to bud, though they're clearly still alive. Since the "Apple Blossom" and "Piquant" were all treated exactly alike since last year, there is no explanation for why they're blooming at different times. The "Lemon Sorbet" came from Van Engelen this year (amazing company!), so I can understand why it might have been on a different schedule that my older bulbs.

Perhaps I will just enjoy having exquisite amaryllis blooms over an eight week period.......

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