Few flowering bulbs can surpass the stately beauty of the amaryllis. Typically blooming in April, this popular bulb is a star performer in the spring garden. Dormant bulbs are readily available now, and with proper care, they can become a long-lasting part of your landscape.
Dormant bulbs that you purchase now, however, must be handled specially this winter. When they are dried and forced into dormancy for shipping purposes, the bulbs are triggered to bloom during winter rather than spring. If you plant bulbs you purchase now outside into the garden, they will send up their flower stalks this winter when they are likely to be damaged by cold.
Caring for amaryllis indoors
Amaryllis bulbs purchased now should be planted into pots using a well-drained potting soil with the top quarter of the bulb above the soil surface. (You can also buy them already potted.) The pot should be large enough for a 1-inch clearance between the pot rim and the bulb. Clay or plastic pots may be used, but because an amaryllis in bloom can be somewhat top-heavy, clay pots provide a little more stability.
Place the pot in a sunny window (the more sun the better) and keep the soil evenly moist. When the flower stalk begins to emerge, rotate the pot one-half turn every few days so it will grow straight. Otherwise, it will grow towards the window and look awkward. If you provide your amaryllis with too little light, the flower stalk will grow excessively tall and may even fall over. Flowering generally occurs in December or early January from bulbs planted now. Some large bulbs will produce two flower stalks.
Sometime after the flower spike has emerged, leaves will grow from the top of the bulb. After the flowers have faded, cut the stalk at the point where it emerges from the bulb, but do not cut any foliage. Keep the plant inside and continue to provide plenty of light or the leaves will be weak and floppy. You should water regularly when the soil begins to feel dry, but it is not really necessary to fertilize your amaryllis during this time.
Plant your bulbs into the garden when April arrives. Amaryllises planted in the garden in spring will get into their natural cycle and bloom in April the following years.