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Amaryllis are Awesome

Amaryllis are Awesome

Amaryllis are totally awesome!
Yes, I know the word is way overused these days, but in the case of Amaryllis, it is so appropriate. These tropical-looking plants have huge, exotic blooms that brighten up any room. They are the shining stars of my holiday décor. I had tired of the traditional poinsettia, so one year long ago I replaced them with bright red Amaryllis. I've found that they last longer, are a lot more reliable and less sensitive, and they make a much more dramatic display. They are also my "fall-back" gifts, ready for unexpected holiday guests. Amaryllis are always welcome, and everyone loves them. I like to plant them up in clay pots, tie a festive ribbon around the rim and put a sprig of greenery in for an accent.

It's fascinating to watch Amaryllis grow - they seem to spring up right before your eyes. The strong, straight flower stalk rises from the plump bulb, and within weeks it's topped by one or more striking blooms. The bright green, strap-like leaves follow later.

The blooms can be cut and added to classic evergreens for festive bouquets. I've seen stems bunched in a "vase" made from a hollowed-out pineapple and ensconced in a hurricane lamp. I once saw a dramatic arrangement where the hostess had "sugared" both fruit and the Amaryllis blooms for a sparkling holiday centerpiece. Frankly, no matter how you display the fabulous blooms, they always make an impressive show. And they last a long time in the vase if the water is changed often and the stems re-cut regularly.

It's late summer, and the holidays are right around the corner - they'll be here before we know it. That's why I was excited to see Breck's new Amaryllis Lovers selection! In addition to my favorite classics, such as the dual-color Clown Amaryllis and a pristine white double amaryllis, Breck's has rolled out two all-new varieties! Check out Elvas, a double-flowered pink amaryllis. You'll also want to look at the ready-for-the-holidays Samba Amaryllis, which features rounded, bi-colored red and white petals. For each of these varieties, you can choose either one bulb per pot, or three in a pot for a fuller display (you'll also save money when you buy the three-bulb package - it's the same price as two individual bulbs!).

Growing Amaryllis Indoors
"Forcing" bulbs to bloom indoors may sound like a challenge, but it's actually pretty easy. After you receive your Amaryllis planter, water it well and place it in a well-lit area - an eastern- or western-facing window is ideal. Avoid placing the plant directly over a heat register or radiator, but make sure they're not freezing. Amaryllis perform best and last longer when they're kept in "cool-ish" (60-70 degree) temperatures. Water your plant sparingly, just enough to keep the soil moist, until buds appear. Then, you'll want to gradually water it more (a couple of times per week). The plants don't mind being "forced" - you can re-plant your bulbs outdoors or keep them potted post-holidays. However, an Amaryllis will need some rest after it blooms. Cut the flowering stalk off an inch or two above the bulb, but leave the foliage intact. We recommend repotting your amaryllis in a planter with drainage holes (transfer the soil with the bulb - this reduces shock). Treat your Amaryllis as you would a houseplant, watering when the soil dries and applying light, water-soluble fertilizer once per month. In the late spring, after the danger of frost has passed, move the pot outdoors, or transfer the Amaryllis to the garden. In the fall, before the first hard frost, most your Amaryllis back indoors and cut off the dried foliage above the neck of the bulb. Store in a cool, dark area for a rest period lasting 6-8 weeks, then repot the bulb and start the process over again! The bulb will rebloom in 4-5 weeks.

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