During the holidays it is not unusual to receive an exotic plant as a gift or to purchase one to compliment your holiday display. Too often, after the holidays are over, these plants end up in the trash either because people don’t know that they can be kept as a houseplant or because people lack confidence in their ability to take care of the plant now that the season has come to an end. Blooming Secrets is here to dispel these myths and to help you do what you think you can’t!
An increasingly popular flower that is purchased during the holidays is the Amaryllis. They have large, prominent flowers and bloom for a long period of time so they make an ideal gift or a great decorating addition. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and despite what you might think they are not difficult to grow and can be brought into bloom again and again. The Amaryllis is actually a bulb that is native to tropical areas of South America. Making an Amaryllis bloom again is really a matter of recreating the environment from which it comes.
During the holiday season, you want to enjoy your Amaryllis flowers to their fullest so you need to keep it in a well-lighted area with temperatures that are in the 60 to 70-degree range. I’ve found that my kitchen that has an island under a fluorescent light works very well. You want to keep the Amaryllis watered but not saturated. Once the flowers on each stalk die, you can get multiple stalks, by the way, you should cut that stalk down to near the top of the bulb. For the rest of the winter, you should keep your Amaryllis in bright light, such as you would get from a window with Southern exposure, water it regularly, and fertilize it each month with a liquid fertilizer made for houseplants.
Once spring arrives and there is no danger of frost you can move your Amaryllis outdoors. The leaves may yellow and die but this is normal as the plant is adjusting to a change in its environment. You should keep it in a sunny location where you can water the plant daily to keep it moist. You should now increase the frequency of your fertilization to every two weeks. As the summer calendar turns to August the plant will need to go into a period of dormancy to gain the strength to bloom during the holidays. You should cut back on your watering and find a cool place with a temperature of around 55 to 60 degrees. A spot in your basement may be a good place and you should keep it here until new leaves start to appear.
Once the new leaves appear, usually in late October or early November you want to move the plant back to that sunny window where it will be warm and begin to water it regularly. Hopefully, in 6 to 8 weeks the flowers will return for the holidays, just when you want them the most!