Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: I have received an amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift. The photo of the flower is so beautiful it is hard for me to believe I can grow this plant. I really want to keep it alive. How do I take care of it?

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I am also enamored with this lovely flower and you will be surprised to find out, it is a fairly easy plant to grow.  Right now, just keep the plant in an area with bright light but not direct light and no direct cold breezes.  The soil should be moist but never wet.  Amaryllis bulbs can be planted in the ground anytime between September and January.  Amaryllis plants do best in light or dappled shade. In heavy shade, they will be thin, spindly and flower poorly.  If planted in full sun, amaryllis leaves will turn yellow.  These plants require well-drained soils amended with organic matter or compost.  Use slow-release forms of fertilizer to minimize leaching of nutrients into water resources.  Apply 2-3 light applications of fertilizer during growing season, which is March through September. Plant the bulbs 12 to 15 inches apart with the neck of the bulb protruding above the ground. Once planted in the ground, water newly planted amaryllis and keep them moist but not waterlogged until the plants are well-established. The bulbs may be left in the ground for several years or dug and reset every September or October. It is not necessary to dig, separate, and replant each year, but doing so will encourage uniform flowering and larger blooms. An additional advantage to digging is it will provide an opportunity to discard unhealthy bulbs, to remove young offsets (bulblets) and to amend the bed with organic matter. Diseased bulbs will show red discoloration and lesions on the bulbs.  These diseased bulbs should be destroyed. Control weeds by spreading a 2-inch layer of mulch over the bed at planting time and remove any weeds immediately.  Amaryllis bulbs lend themselves well to containers too.  More complete information can be obtained from the University of Florida publication titled “Amaryllis” by Dr. Sydney Brown and Dr. Robert Black.


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