Amaryllis, a holiday favorite

Horticulture Hints

One of the most widely grown bulbs worldwide, and available in a wide array of colors and flower types is the Amaryllis. Mainly cultivated in South Africa, Israel and Netherlands, these bulbs are shipped for purchase as winter blooming flowers indoors for our cold Iowa climate.

Amaryllis are very easy to grow, which makes them a great gift for gardeners of all ages and experience levels. It can take two to eight weeks for bulbs to begin to grow and about eight to 12 weeks from the time bulbs are potted before they begin to flower.

Many garden centers have pre-potted Amaryllis bulbs or kits available. The size of the bulb purchased is important as the flowers produced are already inside the bulb. Larger bulbs will have larger flowers and will produce more flowering stalks.

Locate pots in a bright, sunny location such as a south-facing window with a temperature of 70-75 degrees, as warmer temperatures encourage faster growth and earlier blooming. Once sprouted, keep the soil moist but not overly watered.

Amaryllis that fail to receive adequate light or heat during their growth period, may produce a paler flower color and elongated leaves. Once in flower, place them in a slightly cooler area at about 65 degrees, out of direct sunlight, to help extend flower life. Be sure to turn pots frequently to help to keep the flower stalks from leaning towards the light. As flower stalks can be top heavy, stakes may be used to keep stalks from drooping over.

Fertilization is not needed until after the plant blooms. Diluted liquid fertilizers may be applied every 2 weeks or sprinkle slow release fertilizer pellets on top of the potting soil. This helps the bulb to store energy so that it can re-flower in following years. After all of the flowers have faded, cut off flower stalks where they emerge from the leaves and leave pot to grow on in a sunny location.

Did you know? Many people discard Amaryllis bulbs after they have flowered rather than trying to keep them to regrow another year, but it can be done. For additional tips on how to save and care for Amaryllis bulbs, see the ISU publication: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/12597

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

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