A potted amaryllis is blooming beautiful in the winter months.
When all of the holiday twinkle lights are back in their boxes, and the days turn a monotonous, monochromatic gray, a splash of color from these huge, flamboyant flowers can instantly put me in a better mood.
Thick, broad petals look almost like velvet in all shades of red, wine, blush pink, deep rose, mauve, bright orange, apricot, salmon, white, green and bi-colors. The reds are among my favorites, including the bright red “Merry Christmas,” the true red of “Double Delicious” and the richer, deeper “Grand Diva.” White amaryllis — “Marilyn” or “Antarctica” — are always gorgeous, and if you want an eye-popping color, choose the luscious tropical pink “Lagoon.” For delicacy, the pink or salmon “Rosalie” is perfect. The best bi-colors include “Samba,” with its ruffled red petals edged in white, or “Stardust,” which features big white blooms dusted and streaked with red.
Amaryllis is easy to grow and requires minimal care. Potting up bulbs now through early January will provide blooms in 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the variety. Most varieties produce two or more stems, each with at least four blooms. Stagger plantings to produce an even longer bloom time.
Sure, you can go simple and elegant – one bulb to a pot – and the result is satisfying. Planting three bulbs to a pot, however, creates a real show-stopper. You’ll have between six and nine stems and 24 to 36 flowers that will carry you through winter’s dreariest, cold days.
Look for top-quality bulbs sized 32 to 34 cm, and you’ll likely have three weeks of blooms. Here’s how to plant three bulbs to a pot:
Three top-size amaryllis bulbs
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A broad, shallow pot (round works best) with at least one drainage hole in the bottom
Minimum pot size: 7 inches deep by 11 inches in diameter. (amaryllis roots are thick and fleshy, but don’t need much extra growing room)
Waterproof saucer or plate (to catch water under the pot)
Fill 1/3 of the pot with potting soil. Place three bulbs close together but not touching, approximately 1½ inches apart. Position each bulb so the bottom 2/3 will be buried, leaving the top 1/3 above the soil surface (“bare shoulders”)
Add potting soil around and between the bulbs. Tamp soil to secure; don’t fill soil to the top of the pot to leave space for watering.
To initiate growth, water well. Be prepared to wait; nothing happens for a while. During this pre-growth stretch, water sparingly, when soil is dry to touch. After 3 to 8 weeks, a stem will appear. Once growth starts, water as needed to keep soil damp (not wet or soggy).
Set the pot by a sunny window (south- and west-facing windows offer the best light). Grow at room temperature, 60 to 75 F. Turn the pot occasionally to encourage balanced growth (amaryllis are phototropic, they’ll lean towards the dominant source of light)
Once the flowers open, move the pot out of direct sunlight so flowers will last longer. Keep pots away from heaters and hot air vents; move to a cooler spot at night to prolong blooms.