Amaryllis can sometimes take two years to surprise the Hamptons gardener with exquisite blooms. But most times, amaryllis go dormant for approximately only one year. A bold flowering bulb that looks tropical, its bursting trumpet blooms exuberate strength, and simplicity. For five to seven weeks you can expect your amaryllis to bloom and delight.
For the bulb to flower again, amaryllis should be stored in a dim lit area, no more than 55 degrees. Like poinsettia, the cellar is generally a good location for providing a cool and dry environment. There is no watering during dormancy however; you can clip of yellowed leaves at the top of the bulb's neck.
Sometimes by forcing your bulbs you can synchronize their blooms for the winter holidays. Start the forcing process 6-8 weeks before your planned bloom time. It is always best to start with plump bulbs that have a head start by the slight showing of healthy roots.
When potting, make sure the bulbs are a close fit between the pot and bulb(s), a well draining pot mix is recommended. The top third of bulb should stay exposed; fill surroundings of the potted amaryllis bulb(s) with potting soil.
Another good idea at this time is, in anticipation of the bulb's future weighty stalks is to put in place a support stick, or preferably a dried stalk of bamboo. Be sure to be careful when pressing the stake into pot, not to damage the bulbs, and roots. Once completed, water well.
Bright indirect light, and keeping the soil moist, is very important. Eventually, in approximately three weeks, you will see the amaryllis' young stalk begin to rise up. At this time it is also very important to remember to revolve the pot towards the light to assure and assist the stalk in growing straight. When the stalk rises about 5"-6" you can begin to gently tie to positioned security stick. Please be sure to attach to stick very gently, allowing for flexibility of the bulb's hefty future growth. When happy, amaryllis are known to put out blooms that can reach 20"-24" tall.
Amaryllis for me, have a very joyful and commanding beauty. Giving your growing plant a tad fertilizer is always a good thing. After precious bloom fades, cut the stalk down to just above the bulb. But keep watering the plant until it goes dormant.
While most consumers up north are familiar with the robust vermillion amaryllis sold during the winter season holidays, there are smaller and equally lovely with pale soft colors such as my favorites, Amaryllis Aphrodite and Amaryllis Fantasy.
It is also very rewarding knowing that their beauty will return, because of one's care and attention. To coin a phrase: The gift that keeps on giving.
Locally, you can find varied and most delightful amaryllis bulb selections at, Lynch Nursery in Southampton, Country Gardens and Marders Nursery both in Bridgehampton, and at Buckley's and Whittendales in East Hampton.
Fantasy Amaryllis. (Courtesy Photo: White Flower Farm)
Linda is the founder and Creative Landscape Designer of Linda Gardens Corp. with offices in Bridgehampton, New York City, and Italy.