The amaryllis is a vibrant and alluring flower that's often the center of attention. Grown outdoors in warm climates, it's also enjoyed as an easy-care houseplant throughout the colder months.
Enhance any space by growing amaryllis. Once you see how this flowering masterpiece upgrades your home's aesthetics and mood, it will become a staple of your seasonal decor.
Around the holiday season, many stores already sell pre-potted amaryllis plants. If you pick one up, use caution when transporting it. Depending on the variety, the amaryllis could already be established and quite tall. This will make for an awkward commute, so it's ideal to have a passenger holding the plant.
If you're going to start growing from scratch, it's important to pick the right bulb: make sure it's sturdy and free from rot or mold. Generally speaking, the larger the bulb, the larger the amaryllis blooms will be. Larger bulbs may also produce more blossoms on a stem, so consider your intended display area when making your selection.
Glass or ceramic containers work best for amaryllis, and drainage holes are a must. The diameter depends on the size of the bulb. Usually it only needs about an inch of soil around it, so a 6-inch pot is a good starting point. If you intend on planting a few bulbs together, you'll have to go larger. Three medium-sized bulbs, for example, will do well in a 12-inch pot.
Soil should be compost-rich and loose enough to accommodate the roots. Soak the bulb in lukewarm water for about two hours before planting. When you put it in soil, leave about a quarter of the bulb exposed. Pat the soil gently, and water only minimally.
Your amaryllis loves light, though indirect lighting is best to preserve blossoms as long as possible. The plant will thrive living in a window that has a lot of sun exposure during the winter months. Just remember to turn the pot a few inches every couple of days to evenly distribute the sunlight.
Blooms will seek out the sun, so you may want to stake the plant so it doesn't lean too far toward them.
Once your amaryllis establishes itself in its new home, it's somewhat drought-resistant. However, you'll need to get it to this level first by keeping the soil moist but not overwatered. Once you have a well-adjusted sprout, you can cut back watering. At this point, let the top few inches of the soil dry out each time before you water, but never let the soil dry out completely.
Your amaryllis loves heat and humidity — it's a tropical plant native to warm, moist climates, after all. Since this plant lives indoors during the winter, you need to ensure that it stays happy. Some owners like to use a heat mat underneath the pot to distribute an even amount of warmth below the soil.
If you're seasonally growing amaryllis with no intention of putting it into dormancy, then there's no need to fertilize: its bulb contains all the nutrients it craves. But if you want to regrow the plant next year, then you should fertilize it with a liquid solution as you would any other houseplant.
When an amaryllis flower begins to die on a stem, remove the shriveled blooms. This will redirect power and efficiency to the plant, which will, in turn, produce stronger and better flowers. Make sure to leave the stem though, as it helps boost the plant's energy, acting as a temporary leaf. When it begins to die and turn yellow, you can cut it down to about two inches above the bulb.
Transferring your amaryllis to another pot isn't a complicated task. The key is to use the proper materials.
You need a heavier pot to counter the flower's size. Make sure it has plenty of drainage holes, and you can add stones on the bottom for additional weight. Put in your soil, then the bulb, leaving one-third of it exposed. Water immediately.
You can propagate your amaryllis in a few different ways. They do produce seeds, so this is one method, though it takes a long time for a plant to sprout from seed.
Dividing the bulb is another, speedier option. Sometimes this isn't necessary, as amaryllis will form a daughter bulb next to the original that you can remove and plant on its own.
Fungal diseases aren't uncommon for the amaryllis, and they usually stem from overwatering. Tractosis, for example, manifests as dark spots on the leaves from excess water. Use a fungicide on the plant if you see this occurring.
Gray rot and root rot also happen because of overwatering. In either case, you should replant the amaryllis and change the soil to avoid losing the plant.
Shatter-pan is a common parasite to the amaryllis that shows up as brown spots on the leaves. Aphids are another offender, and the colony will usually be noticeable on the leaves. They're white, and another visible threat, the thrip, is brown.
All of these can eventually destroy the plant. Try a dish soap and water solution to get rid of them. If this doesn't work, you'll have to go with an insecticide.
Amaryllis flowers have a unique feature. Due to the nature of the bloom cycle, cut flowers tend to last about two weeks in a vase, which is longer than they survive on the plant. Because of such a quirk, they're a sought-after mid-winter floral display.
Many people use amaryllis as fresh dining room centerpieces or coffee table focal points to brighten and enhance the ambiance.
Part of the Amaryllidaceae family, the amaryllis is related to the daffodil. They have a multitude of similar characteristics including chemical composition, aesthetic features, and they both stem from bulbs.
African lilies, snowdrops, and cape tulips are also closely related to the amaryllis. Taking it a step further, there are a number of non-flowering plants in the family. Onions, garlic, chives, leeks, and shallots are all amaryllis relatives. But the closest flower the amaryllis resembles is the hippeastrum.
The entire amaryllis plant is poisonous to mammals, causing mild to moderate symptoms in most cases. Bulbs and below-ground stems have the most toxins, but leaves and flower petals are still dangerous. If you suspect a pet or human has amaryllis poisoning, contact a medical professional right away.
The amaryllis has sharp microscopic calcium oxalate crystallines that will irritate the skin if it is touched excessively. If ingested, this oxalate will also harm the lips, mouth, and throat. But more than this, a lycorine alkaloid in the amaryllis will induce vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach.
There are quite a few stunning varieties of amaryllis. Each has attention-getting petals with dramatic variegation and striations. Popular choices include ice queen, magic green, jewel, samba, magnum, desire, clown, apple blossom, orange sovereign, and nymph. They all work wonderfully in a wintery home setting or when grown outdoors in a warmer climate.