Forcing Amaryllis in the Home

AmaryllisAmaryllis are popular flowering bulbs which are grown for their large, spectacular blooms during the winter months. Bulbs are available pre- planted in pots or unpotted.

When planting an amaryllis bulb, select a pot which is approximately 1 to 2 inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. The container may be clay, ceramic or plastic, but should have drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the bulb in good, well-drained potting soil. Add a small amount of potting soil in the bottom of the pot. Center the bulb in the middle of the pot. Then add additional potting soil, firming it around the roots and bulb. When finished potting, the upper one- half to two-thirds of the bulb should remain above the soil surface. Also, leave about one inch between the soil surface and the pot's rim. Then water well and place in a warm (70 F) location.

Before watering the preplanted amaryllis bulb, check the pot. If the bulb is in a pot without drainage holes, add drainage holes or transfer the bulb to a pot with drainage holes.

After the initial watering, allow the soil to dry somewhat before watering again. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. When growth appears, move the plant to a sunny window and apply a water-soluble fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks.

During flower stalk elongation, turn the pot each day to keep the flower stalk growing straight. Flower stalks that lean badly, may need to be staked.

Flowering usually occurs about 4 to 6 weeks after potting. When the amaryllis begins to bloom, move the plant to a slightly cooler location that doesn't receive direct sun to prolong the life of the flowers.

Pot amaryllis bulbs in early to mid-November for bloom during the Christmas holidays. Flower colors include red, pink, orange, salmon, white, and bicolors (mostly whites with pink or red flushes). Excellent varieties include: 'Red Lion' deep crimson red, 'White Christmas' snow white, 'Apple Blossom' soft pink and white, 'Prince Carnival' white with red stripes, 'Minerva' red with white star, and 'Picotee' white with red edge.

This article originally appeared in the October 10, 1997 issue, p. 142.

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