When the weather outside is frightful, indoor gardening can be delightful! Many gardeners choose to "force" bulbs indoors to add a burst of natural beauty to the home. Amaryllis, or Hippeastrum, is one of the most successful indoor bulbs. For this reason, and the many red, pink, and white varieties of amaryllis, these flowers have become popular holiday gifts and winter décor!
Amaryllis thrive in small containers – these bulbs prefer to be potbound. Choose a deep pot not more than two inches wider than the bulb; amaryllis bulbs are typically 3-5 inches wide. Use potting soil below and around the bulb to plant the bulb so that the upper 1/3 of the bulb is above the soil level. Water your amaryllis thoroughly, then place the container in a sunny, room-temperature spot. Rotate the pot periodically to prevent the amaryllis from leaning toward the sun. Water when the soil begins to feel dry to the touch – you may add a small amount of houseplant fertilizer to encourage growth - and wait for the magic to happen.
Your amaryllis should take 6-8 weeks to bloom. Most amaryllis stems produce four flowers; plants with multiple stems will give even more blooms! This sequence of blooms may last a couple of weeks to one month.
Want to reuse your amaryllis next year? After the flowers fade, cut down the flower stalk to about two inches above the bulb. Continue to water, and fertilize once per month. In the summer, place the bulb, pot and all, in the garden, and allow the leaves to grow. Bring the potted bulb indoors in September, and let the pot dry out in a cool, dark place for 8-10 weeks. In mid-November, repot the bulb in fresh soil and start the process over again!