Brighten the Holidays with Amaryllis
They are easy to grow indoors and outdoors
Winter is not the season most often associated with growing flamboyant flowers – unless the subject happens to be amaryllis. With large tropical flowers that rival anything the summer garden can boast, amaryllis are grown indoors in pots to brighten the holidays and dark winter days. Such exquisite flowers may seem daunting to grow, but the guilty secret is that amaryllis are so easy that even a child can do it successfully.
Typically amaryllis are potted up November through January to grow and bloom, variously, from after Christmas until the end of winter. The bulbs themselves are huge onion-like orbs, many larger than a softball or a grown man’s fist.
To grow them, all that’s needed is a bulb, potting soil, and a pot six to seven inches across with a drainage hole. After potting, water well and then water only when the soil is dry to the touch. Place in a bright spot at normal room temperature. Allow eight to 12 weeks from potting to bloom. Be forewarned: growth starts slowly. Usually, nothing much happens for a month or so. Then one or two stems emerge and grow very tall. Each stem is topped by four to six flashy flowers. The show continues, when multiple stems bloom in sequence.
“Watching these plants grow– indoors in winter – is as incredible as watching them bloom,” says amaryllis expert Christian Curless of Colorblends, a Connecticut-based wholesale flower bulb firm with deep roots in Holland that sells direct to U.S. landcare professionals and home gardeners nationwide. “The reason they’re easy to grow is that they’re native to warm regions and don’t need cold winters to trigger their bloom. Just pot them up, place on a sunny windowsill, add some water to start, some more now and then, as needed. That’s it.”
Now is the time to choose and buy amaryllis, as the best quality bulbs and more spectacular varieties at garden retailers and mail-order bulb firms tend to sell out early.
Choosing is the first bit of fun in a project that offers satisfaction all along the way. Amaryllis varieties offer a riot of flower colors that range from subtle shades to screaming brights of red, magenta, pink, fuchsia, white, salmon, orange, bi-colors and more. A few are green. Flower sizes and shapes range from enormous single blooms to multi-petaled doubles to miniatures. Petals can be rounded, pointed, spidery, reflexed or slightly cupped.
To get the best show, it’s important to buy large, top quality bulbs. Such bulbs offer two stems per bulb (sometimes a third), each topped by four to six flowers. For wholesale prices for big bulbs (32-34 cm) of desirable varieties, visit colorblends.com or call 888-847-8637 (minimum order is $60)