Amaryllis is one of the most popular plants for in-home growing and beginning gardeners. According to the Amaryllis Bulb Company in Lakeland, Florida, this is because the amaryllis are the easiest of bulbs to bring to flowering, growing well both indoors and outdoors. Taking proper care of this beautiful bulb will provide your home or garden with a beautiful dash of colour and style.
If you cannot plant your bulbs immediately after you purchase them, store them in a dry place with a temperature between 4.44 and 10.0 degrees C. This will prevent damage to the sensitive bulbs.
Before planting, soak the base and roots of the amaryllis bulb in warm water for at least an hour to prime them. Potting compost (available pre-mixed at most nurseries and garden centres) makes a good soil for amaryllis bulbs. Plant the bulbs in the soil so that the top third of the bulb is exposed, with the rest covered by soil. Add water so that the soil is moist, but not wet.
Place the potted plant in an area where it will receive direct sunlight, or light from a heat lamp if planting in a greenhouse. The amaryllis requires temperatures above 15.6 degrees C to bloom; ideally, the temperature will remain between 20 degrees C and 26.7 degrees C at all times, day and night.
After planting, only water the amaryllis bulb if 1 inch of soil is dry to the touch and then only water to moisten the soil. The bulb can easily rot if you provide it with too much water, so be careful.
The flower will take seven to 10 weeks to bloom; be patient, and take care not to get worried and overwater. Remember that in wintertime the blooming may take longer, as temperatures tend to be lower. As long as the bulb is still firm to the touch, your amaryllis is doing fine.
Once the flower blooms, be sure that it is receiving direct sunlight to encourage the stem to sprout more. You can also water more often, as there is more plant to need water. Water to make sure the soil never dries out.
Rotate your flower pot every few days to prevent the stalks from growing toward the sun and so leaning one direction. You may need to stake the plant as it starts to get larger and heavier.
In zones 9 and 10 of the Arbor Day Foundation's Hardiness Zone map, amaryllis can be planted outdoors at any time, even in winter. In all other zones, they can only be planted outside during the summer heat to ensure they will bloom.
You will continue to promote the growth of the amaryllis plant for five to six weeks. Once the leaves start to yellow, this plant has run its course. If you have more bulbs, simply plant more. The bulb that you already used, however, can produce flowers again after regenerating. Cut the flower stalk 3 to 5 inches above the bulb; cut the flowers back to about 2 inches above the bulb but do not remove them completely as they will provide food for the bulb during regeneration. Store the bulb in a cool, dark place (below 12.8 degrees C) for six to 10 weeks. You can store them in your refrigerator for this time, but make sure there are no apples in there as they will sterilise the bulb.
After the minimum period, you can replant the bulbs at any time. This time, the bulb will take at least eight weeks to bloom; follow the same instructions as before, and you will see similar results.