The selections are amazing at this time of year...
so many varieties!
While prepackaged amaryllis bulbs are convenient
and ideal for gift giving, they're more likely to produce
one flower stalk, in contrast to these top-size bulbs...
Top-size bulbs like these will usually produce 2-3 flower stalks,
providing a spectacular indoor flower show...
well worth the investment!
Hmm... Shall I go with huge (about 4" diameter) or
ginormous (about 6" across)?
Back home, with my purchase. And my decision?
The huge 4" diameter 'Apple Blossom' Amaryllis.
Time to get potting! Takes about 6-8 weeks from potting
to bloom. Before we start, it's time to address these shriveled
root tips for efficient water uptake.
With a sharp pair of kitchen shears or pruners, snip off
each withered root tip; otherwise, moisture absorption is
hindered and rooting may be delayed.
A properly trimmed root system, ready for the next step...
Fill a pan with tepid water (I add a teaspoon of
Neptune's Harvest Fish/Seaweed Blend) and suspend the
bulb above it. This way, the newly opened root cells will
draw up the moisture, without risk of rotting the bulb.
Allow it to remain thus suspended for several hours,
or overnight (my preference, to satisfy the bulb).
Pot choice? Definitely clay, for stability... decorative ceramic
pots are another choice, often favored for their decorative look.
Plastic pots may suffice, but do not provide stability and care
must be taken not to overwater. Here we see the three basic
shapes available in terra cotta. Left to right... standard, azalea
and bulb pan. Choose the "standard" for adequate depth.
Diameter? About two inches wider than the bulb diameter
(measured at its widest point), so my 4" wide bulb requires
that 6" diameter standard pot, shown above.
Soak the pot? Absolutely! That clay pot is porous and will
continue to draw moisture from the root mass, until it becomes
saturated. Setting your pot in tepid water for 20-30 minutes
(until it's thoroughly soaked) before potting, eliminates this problem.
Alternatively, soak the potted bulb afterward.
Time to bring in the pea gravel and potting soil!
Put a clay shard or piece of screen over the drainage hole,
then add about an inch of gravel to ensure proper drainage.
Choose an organic-rich, well-drained potting soil like
my favorite Bar Harbor Blend® from Coast of Maine.
Fill the pot about halfway with potting soil,
creating a little mound in the center, and pressing
out air pockets with your hand.
Leave about 1/2 of the bulb exposed above the soil line.
Recommendations range from 1/3 to 2/3. As you can see, I favor
the "2/3 rule," which greatly reduces the chance of overwatering.
I've chosen to soak the potted bulb, which provides its
first thorough watering. Hereafter, water will be provided
from the top down, taking care to water around the bulb,
not atop it.
Why you'll want to rinse off that pea gravel! Above, we
see it straight from the bag, dull and sand-coated... OK for
drainage stone, but not very decorative. But, thoroughly
rinsed and it's a handsome alternative to white marble chips -
perfect for filling humidity trays.
Yes, the saucer is quite wide, intentionally! When I water,
any excess will drain safely away from the root system,
eliminating possible root rot. Additionally, a constant water
level can be maintained in the base of this over one inch stone
bed. This amaryllis will have a constant supply of humidity -
(without sitting in water) important with our relatively dry
home air. This does not replace your normal watering routine.
You may need to add water to that saucer on a daily basis.
Apply this same system to any indoor plants all winter!
Do not overwater your newly planted bulb.
Once or twice a week should suffice. Once the flower bud tip
starts to protrude at the center of the bulb's neck, you may want
to increase watering frequency - possibly 2-3 times weekly. It
will vary according to available light, temperatures and lack of
humidity, as well as pot type... obviously, clay will dry out sooner
than ceramic or plastic.
Light? About a half day of sun... morning or afternoon is fine.
Once flower stalks appear, move your pot back from the strong
sun to bright, diffused light. This will prolong flower life,
allowing you to enjoy an extended flower display.
In another post... later, when you're wondering what to do with
that fading amaryllis, we'll cover the rest of the story and the
sometimes tricky scenario of re-blooming that bulb!
For now, we're left to anticipate an indoor flower show
from the "Queen of Bulbs."
Enjoy your amaryllis!
Photos/Text: ©Deb Lambert 2010