After holidays, care for your flowering amaryllis
By SUSAN McMANN
OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
This holiday season, many of us may have purchased or received as a gift an amaryllis bulb.
Amaryllis plants are prized for their long-lasting flowers and their broad range of dramatic colors including the most popular, red and scarlet.
At first, amaryllis care is easy. The challenge comes in late winter when the flowers begin to fade. With a little care, you should be able to keep amaryllis plants after the winter season.
First, keep it healthy now by placing it in a location with filtered light and preferably a cool location in the 60-degree Fahrenheit range. Keep the plant barely moist. Be careful not to get the portion of the bulb that sticks above the soil wet.
In late winter, the flowers will turn yellow. This signals the time to cut the flower stalks near the top of the bulb. You can now increase watering from the top, when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.
Be sure to empty excess water shortly after watering. Move the amaryllis to the sunniest location that can be managed, such as a south-facing window. Fertilize monthly with a liquid fertilizer to get new leaves to grow.
When you plant your annuals, it is time to move the amaryllis outside. As with any houseplant, start with a shady site. Water daily and gradually move to a brighter area where it will receive at least six hours of sun. Continue to use a liquid fertilizer based on label directions.
Now begins the tricky part of getting your amaryllis to bloom. The dormant period needs to start by mid-August and takes about three weeks. Let the foliage die down gradually by reducing, then completely stopping, watering and fertilizing. Do not remove foliage until it becomes dry and shriveled. Eventually, cut the yellow leaves off a couple of inches above the bulb.
As September begins, place the bulb in a cool (50-60 degees), dark, dry place for six to eight weeks. Some basements tend to be too humid. By Nov. 1, the tip of a new flower should emerge. The bulb may be re-potted at this time.
Now you can move the potted amaryllis plant into a warm, bright area. Start the growth cycle by watering. Don’t let the bulb dry out especially once it starts to flower. Rotate the pot often, so the plant doesn’t lean to one side.
For tips, go to: go.osu.edu/amaryllislove.