Amazing amaryllis

Horticulture Hints

For the upcoming holiday season, nothing beats a spike of impressive amaryllis blooms. Now is the time to start bulbs for a colorful December display in the home, as amaryllis will need 6 to 8 weeks after potting before blooming.

When planting amaryllis, select containers that are just an inch or two larger than the bulb. Be sure to provide drainage holes in the pot, or the soil may remain too wet, which can cause bulbs to rot. The planting medium should be well-drained, lightweight, and high in organic matter. A purchased potting soil or a created mix of one part perlite, one part compost, with two parts loam soil, will work well.

Place bulb in the pot about halfway into soil, leaving the upper, pointed end of bulb uncovered, and water thoroughly. To avoid potential bulb rot, be sure to allow soil to dry after the first watering, and wait until root growth begins before watering again.

When new growth first appears, keep soil slightly moist to touch. A balanced fertilizer may be used according to label directions. Place pot in a full sun location, avoiding areas over 75 degrees, as warmer temperatures promote rapid growth and weak foliage. Once flowers begin to appear, move plant out of direct sunlight to a cooler location around 65 to 70 degrees, which will help blooms to last longer.

Pre-potted amaryllis and bulbs are also available from local florists and greenhouses, and are great for holiday gifts. Choose largest bulbs available for best results. Check bulbs for firmness with a gentle squeeze, to avoid selecting a soft rotting bulb, or one that is dried out and hardened.

Amaryllis are tender, tropical bulbs, and will not overwinter if grown outdoors in Iowa. After flowering, amaryllis bulbs may be saved for re-planting next year. For further instructions on growing tips and saving bulbs, see the ISU publication on amaryllis online at: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/rg328-pdf which is also available at your local extension office.

Did you know? It is important to note as both amaryllis bulbs and plant parts are poisonous, be sure to place amaryllis in a safe location, away from children and pets.

Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.

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