Amaryllis are some of our favorite winter plants. The giant, long-lasting flowers add life to holiday mantles and tablescapes. Amaryllis grow kits are the perfect gift for gardeners and plant-lovers, giving them an opportunity to get their hands into soil. Watching the flower’s stalk slowly emerge from the bulb and form a velvety blossom can brighten up the dreary post-holiday winter months.
Choose a pot that allows the amaryllis to be surrounded by at least an inch of soil. Soak the bulb and its roots in lukewarm water overnight to jump start growth. Then, plant the bulb so the top third is visible above the soil. Give it a good soak, then allow the soil to dry out until the bud and stalk emerge. Then begin watering whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. A warm, sunny location will help the stalk grow properly.
Amaryllis can also be forced in water. Layer stones or marbles in a vase and rest the bulb. Fill the vase so that the bottom of the bulb is just barely touching water. This will wake up the roots and encourage them to work down into the water. If the bulb is submerged too deeply it will rot.
On average, it takes 6-8 weeks for amaryllis to flower after potting. When the bud begins to show color, move the plant out of direct sunlight to extend bloom time. The blooms typically last about a month. Flowers can be removed as they fade. When all the flowers on a stalk fade, cut it down to the base of the bulb, sometimes another flower stalk will emerge. Older, larger bulbs generally produce more flowers.
Amaryllis will develop leaves after flowering. They can be treated as houseplants through the spring and summer, kept either in a sunny window or a partially sunny spot outside. In late summer, stop watering the plant and let the leaves fade away. The bulb can then be stored in a cool (50°F), dark place for an 8-12 week “winter”. After this dormant period, bring the plant back into warmth and sunlight to restart the blooming cycle.