Amaryllis for the holidays

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Amaryllis, nicknamed the Naked Lady for its tall and leafless stem, blooms from December to early April.

With striking colored blooms and a flowering period that begins in December, the amaryllis is a beautiful choice for the holidays.

This bulbous plant, which is native to tropical and subtropical climates, grows freely indoors and can be planted in a pot filled with dirt or forced to grow in water.

The flower, nicknamed the Naked Lady for its tall and leafless stem, blooms from December to early April.

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It comes in a variety of colors, including pink, red and white, which can be used in most home interiors.

The first step to growing amaryllis is to pick the perfect bulb. The right bulb can make the difference between success and failure.

Bulbs should be firm and not have any blemishes, nicks or gouges in the flesh. It doesn’t matter whether the outer skin is intact.

Also, be sure to choose a color that will work with your interior décor.

After you have the bulb, you must decide whether to plant the bulb in dirt or force it in water, which simply depends on preference.

Water vases aren’t always the best option in a home with children or pets, because they are not as stable as dirt planters. But if you choose planting, ensure the pot has good drainage.

If planting, place an inch or so of pebbles in the base of the pot to provide drainage, so the bulb won’t rot.

Then, fill half the pot with potting soil and place the bulb in the middle.

Place more soil in the pot to the area directly below the neck of the bulb and pack.

Water the plant to make sure it drains, and make sure any standing water is emptied from the saucer under the pot.

If you are going to force the amaryllis in water, first, make sure the forcing jar’s glass is clean. Then, place the bulb in the jar to check where the bottom of the bulb sits.

After noting the spot, take the bulb out and fill the container with water to that point, so the bulb isn’t resting in the water.

After the planting is complete, amaryllis takes about 6 to 8 weeks to bloom, but it varies depending on the amount of sun.

Amaryllis should be kept in well-lit rooms or in windows with a lot of sun. The plants should be turned a half-turn every day to avoid them leaning.

The water in the forcing jars should be changed every week, and planted amaryllis should be watered so they stay moist, not wet.

Also, planted amaryllis might need to be staked, because the blooms might pull the plant down with their weight.

To encourage your amaryllis to bloom again, be sure to cut the flower stalk after the bloom is spent. Take care that you don’t injure the leaves or any emerging flower stalks from the bulb.

During late winter, increase the amount of light the plant gets to encourage leaf production and be sure to keep it watered.

When the winter is over, move the plant outdoors to a sunny area.