At Plant Exchange blog, we depend on a few indoor plants to recharge our interest for next season’s gardening. Amaryllis is an easy-care plant with its battery to supply kick-start energy for the plant to grow and bloom.
Amaryllis bulb in its native Africa comes to life with spring rains, has 2-5 sparkling blooms for a few weeks, and then fades to survive brush fires later in the season. These qualities interested Europeans in the 1700s, and today, many bulbs originate in Holland and South America. Because nurseries can time the amaryllis bloom, it’s a favorite houseplant for the holidays and winter. Fortunate for us on the Northern Plains, it grows well indoors in our winters.
This Amaryllis ‘Samba’ photo was taken in mid-January a year ago. It continued to bloom in early February and had a total of 5 blooms. The potted bulb came from White Flower Farms. Generally, amaryllis bulbs for sale are at least three years old. This bulb was larger than a baseball in size, which in part reflects its age, genetics, and the care given it.
The amaryllis depends on the energy stored in the bulb for beginning growth. Some mark the daily change on the flower stem or leaf for evidence. This burst of growth recharges my interest in what happens next! That this occurs when the rest of life is brown and gray adds to the miracle. Once leaves have emerged, they will begin photosynthesis to make food for the plant. This characteristic of bulbs favors various spring bulbs to use their batteries to grow.
The amaryllis bulb is entirely sustainable for years if given a little care. Once flowers are spent, the stem is discarded, and the arching green leaves continue to grow as a houseplant. Amaryllis does not tolerate freezing temperatures but can be set outside under a tree to replenish the bulb in summer. It only requires water and a little fertilizer. By about August, the green leaves turn yellow, brown and can be discarded.
Then it’s time to remove the bulb from the soil and take it indoors to store it in a dry, cool, dark location where temperatures stay above freezing. In late fall, the bulb can be planted in potting soil, watered lightly, and held in the dark until about two weeks before you wish the plant leaves and flower stems to emerge. This is the same bulb growing its flower stem and leaves now.
As little is required to maintain a bulb, I did not remove it from the potting soil the first year, and now we have a second bulb in the pot. So close, they compete for light.
Before moving the plant outdoors this summer, I will separate the bulbs into two pots with new potting soil to grow until about August and follow the same pattern as last year. The amaryllis is easy-care and forgiving of idle gardeners.
If reading about plants is how you recharge your gardening interest, Fine Gardening has an article on the amaryllis in their February, 2021 publication.
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