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Growing Guide Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

To Induce Growth: Amaryllis in green pots need only a thorough watering to begin growing. Amaryllis shipped with potting mix require potting. It's also possible to grow Amaryllis in pebbles and water. Watch our head gardener demonstrate simple steps to follow in the videos "How to Pot and Care for Amaryllis" and "Growing Amaryllis in Water."

GROWING AMARYLLIS: These bulbs are prized for their willingness to produce large and colorful blooms indoors in the fall (South African Amaryllis) or in the dead of winter (Dutch Amaryllis). Gardeners in areas where temperatures do not go below 10°F (Zones 8-10) can plant Amaryllis bulbs directly in the ground. Choose a site with full sun (at least 6-8 hours of direct sun daily) and well-drained soil. In frost-free areas, plant the bulb with the neck at, or slightly above, ground level. In areas where some frost may occur, the bulb should be set with five or six inches of soil above it, followed by an application of four or five inches of fine mulch. Water the area thoroughly after planting. Once growth starts, water only if rain is infrequent and the top two inches of soil are dry. After the leaves appear, fertilize with a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10); repeat once a month through April. From June through September, keep the area dry. If leaves turn yellow, cut them off at the base.

What follows are instructions for forcing Amaryllis for bloom indoors.

POTTING THE BULBS: Amaryllis shipped in bags require potting. Pot bulbs individually in 6-7in pots or group 3 bulbs together in a 10-12in container. Begin by placing a well-drained potting mix in a plastic tub. Slowly add warm water and stir with your hand until the mix is moist but not soggy. Then fill the pot about half full with potting mix, set the bulb on top of the mix and fill in around the bulb with additional mix. Adjust the position of the bulb as needed, so that the top third of the bulb is exposed. The final level of the mix should be about 1/2in below the rim of the pot to allow for watering. Firm the mix and water lightly to settle it around the bulbs. Then follow the "Pre-bloom Care" instructions below.

PRE-POTTED BULBS: Amaryllis sent already potted need only a thorough watering with lukewarm water to begin growing. Then follow the "Pre-bloom Care" instructions below.

Please note: Pre-potted Amaryllis are shipped with a layer of decorative Spanish moss on top of each pot. Cut the rubber band that holds the Spanish moss in place and arrange the moss around the bulb so it looks attractive.

PRE-BLOOM CARE OF AMARYLLIS: Place the pot where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow. Providing bottom heat (by setting the pot on a propagation mat or on the top of a refrigerator) may help stimulate growth. Water only when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Watering more frequently, particularly just after potting, can cause the bulb to rot. (If the pot is covered with Spanish Moss, lift the moss and pour water directly on the potting mix.)

Growth generally begins in 2-8 weeks. Certain varieties of Amaryllis may take more time to sprout. As long as your bulb remains firm, be patient and take care not to overwater. Provide ample sunshine (a south-facing window or a sunroom) as soon as the bulb sprouts. Rotate the pot frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light. The flower stalks may require support to keep from toppling; our Amaryllis stakes are ideally suited to this purpose. Please call or check our Web site for details.

REBUILDING THE BULB: After flowering, your bulb is exhausted. If you want flowers next year (many people prefer simply to purchase new bulbs every fall), you must allow it to rebuild itself. After the last bloom fades, cut off the flower stalk 3-5 inches above the bulb, BUT DO NOT CUT THE LEAVES OFF. THEY PRODUCE FOOD THAT WILL BE STORED IN THE BULB. Put your plant in a sunny window (a south-facing one is best), water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry to the touch, and begin fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month. When the danger of frost has passed in spring, set the pot outdoors in full sun or knock the bulb out of its pot and plant it in the ground in a sunny location. In fall -- we often wait until frost blackens the leaves -- bring the bulb indoors, cut the foliage off just above the bulb, and store it dry in a cool (55°F), dark place such as a basement for 8-10 weeks. Then pot (or repot) the bulb and water it. Thereafter, keep the potting mix almost dry until new growth emerges, and follow the instructions under "Pre-bloom Care."

AMARYLLIS AS CUT FLOWERS: Amaryllis make a stunning display if you cut their flower stems and place them in a sturdy vase. The best time to cut the flower stems is when the first bud has colored and is just ready to open. This will ensure that the rest of the buds on the same stem have formed sufficiently and will open fully. Make a straight cut across the bottom of the stem, so the stem will rest evenly inside the vase. Because the stems are hollow, the bottom may split and curl up, but this will not affect the blooms. Adding a floral preservative to the water and changing the water regularly will help prevent stem rolling and lengthen the life of your bouquet. Remove individual flowers as they fade. If kept at temperatures of 60-70°F, your cut Amaryllis flowers will last for up to 10 days.

GROWING AMARYLLIS IN STONES AND WATER: These large bulbs will grow happily and bloom abundantly in nothing more than stones and water. To "plant" your bulb, begin by carefully placing river stones or pebbles to a depth of about 4 inches in our Hurricane Vase or Bulb Vase or your own clear glass planter. With scissors, trim off any roots on the bulb that are brown and dried*, but let the roots that are whitish and fleshy remain. Place the Amaryllis bulb, roots down, on top of the stones, then put the remaining stones around the bulb, leaving the top third of the bulb exposed. Finally, add water until the level reaches about 1in below the base of the bulb but no higher. If the base of the bulb sits in water, it will rot.

After planting, set the container on a sunny windowsill in a room where the temperature remains above 60°F. The warmer the temperature (70-80°F night and day is ideal), the faster the bulb will sprout and grow. Check the water level daily. Add water as needed to keep the level below the base of the bulb. A shoot will emerge from the top of the bulb in 2-8 weeks; you may (or may not) see thick white roots pushing between the stones before then. Rotate the container frequently to prevent the flower stalks from leaning toward the light. After the last blooms fade, we recommend that you dispose of the bulb; Amaryllis grown in water may not perform well in subsequent years. However, if you do wish to continue growing the bulb, follow the instructions given in "Potting the Bulbs" and "Rebuilding the Bulb."

*We recommend trimming dried roots off because they will decompose in water over time. Adding aquarium charcoal to the river stones will also help prevent any odors.

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