Amaryllis bulbs are a very special bulb, producing the most magnificent flowers. Originating from South America, a UK garden is not a suitable home for these huge bulbs. So, a little care has to be taken to grow these bulbs indoors. Traditionally a flower for mid-winter, they can be used an excellent Christmas centre piece.
A different bulb to the Amaryllis Belladonna, the true name for these bulbs is Hippeastrum. They have been extensively cultivated and bred since 1900.
A tall stem of 50cm will hold as many as 5 or 6 extremely large trumpet like flowers. Each bulb can produce up to 3 stems during its flowering period. The foliage is evergreen if treated properly. It forms a symmetrical rainbow of large, green, waxy, strap like leaves of nearly 40 cm long. The bulb itself can have a circumference of 30cm.
How do I grow an Amaryllis bulb?
Plant the bulb in a pot only 3-5cm larger than the bulb with a quarter of the bulb visible. Use a fibrous potting mixture and water well. You will not need to water it again until it starts shooting. Forcing the bulb can take 8 weeks before it shows signs of growth. It is recommended to place the pot in a dark place of around 12 degrees until a shoot begins to appear. Place the amaryllis bulb in a draft free warm position with plenty of light when there is 2 inches of growth. The stem of an amaryllis will grow too long for the flower if there isn’t enough light and you will have to use a stake.
Bulbs contain nutrients for the flower however you can use tomato food or plant fertiliser to help keep the bulb healthy. Remove the flowers but do not cut the stem until it has turned brown.
Can Amaryliis bulbs be planted outside?
During summer the bulbs can be planted outside once temperature start reaching 20 degrees. They can grow quite successfully in the garden. Be warned that slugs will quickly eat them.
To make them flower again repeat the process of forcing in September. Stop watering and feeding them, place them back in a dark place and wait 8-12 weeks for a new shoot.
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