distinctive photos on Flickr | Flickr

The distinctive Stamens of the Amarilis.

The Amaryllis is a tender bulb which originated in the Andes mountains of South America. Naturally flowering in December / January is popular for adding some Christmas color in the northern hemisphere over Christmas.

Therefore, unfortunately, it can only be grown outdoors, year round in USDA zones 9-11. In other zones, the potted plants may be moved outdoors after the danger of frost has passed but should be brought back indoors in September.

Amaryllis may be purchased individually packaged or bulk bulbs, but more often sold in a pre-potted condition. The pre-planted Amaryllis gift boxes normally take no more initial effort than simply watering them with room temperature water to bring them into growth. Avoid getting water on the nose of the bulb. Keep the potting medium moist, but not wet. Be careful, do not over-water!

distinctive photos on Flickr | Flickr

The plant should be kept in a brightly lighted area at about 70-75 degrees f. After the plant begins to grow, feeding is essential. Either use a complete slow-release fertilizer which lasts several months, or a water soluble fertilizer twice a month. Once the plant is flowering, keep it out of direct sunlight, and slightly cooler to promote longer flower life. After all flowers fade, cut them off at the top of the stalk. When the stalk begins to sag, carefully cut it off just above the bulb nose. Continue to water and fertilize as normal, until the leaves begin to yellow. At this time, cut the leaves back to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb and remove it from the pot. Keep the bulb in a cool (40-50 degree f), dark place for a minimum of 6-8 weeks.

Plant bulbs 8 weeks before you would like them to bloom.

Plant in a well-drained, sterile potting medium, using a standard 6-inch diameter pot. Be sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes. Plant the bulb, with about one-third being above the kidney of the pot. Press the soil down firmly to set the bulb securely in place.

(c) Hotpix / HotpixUK Tony Smith - Hotpix.freeserve.co.uk WDCC

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  • Adam Floyd