Flower Spotlight: Amaryllis

One of the beauties of the winter/holiday season is the bulb flower commonly called “Amaryllis.”  If you haven’t encountered them elsewhere, you’ve surely seen them for sale in grocery or home stores, a bulb-in-a-box with a pot, some soil, and a few simple instructions.  In fact members of the genus Hippeastrum, these robust, hybrid plants are indeed members of the family Amaryllidaceae, but come from different climes than the actual genus Amaryllis.

Amaryllis are also available as cut flowers, and can be used to luxurious effect in arrangements from centerpieces to bridal bouquets.  Big and tall or dainty and ruffly, there is an amaryllis for every occasion.  Colors range from snowy white and pale green to crimson, burgundy, and nearly purple tones.

If you decide to try growing Amaryllis and can’t bear to throw out your plant when its blooms fade, you can get it to bloom again!  Here are some basic care tips, and you can find more at various sites like this one, and in books such as ‘Amaryllis’ by Starr Ockenga.

1. After blooming, cut off the end of the flower stalk. Let the stalk wither before removing it later.
2. Once the danger of frost has passed, put your amaryllis plant outside in a sunny spot. Repot or add soil if needed, disturbing the roots as little as possible.
3. Keep it well watered and lightly fertilized through the spring and summer. Reduce water and stop fertilizer in the fall.
4. As the weather starts to cool, bring plants indoors and keep in a bright area. Water enough to keep soil from becoming dried out. When bud emerges, stake as needed.

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