Since an amaryllis bulb is a fairly common Christmas gift and not everyone who receives one knows how to care for it, I thought it might be appropriate to share a little information about its culture. I was reminded of the popularity of these plants a few days ago when I saw stacks of them in a local garden shop. And they are truly a gift that keeps on giving if they get the proper care from day one. Once well rooted in an outdoor flower bed, they will bloom each April or May for an extended period of time. Of course, if you are the recipient, you probably won’t get to choose the flower color, but they do come in red, pink and white should you be interested.
Typically, amaryllis bulbs are only available in the fall, but should not be planted until late spring next year. So, what about those you received as a Christmas gift? After removing them from the gift box, plant them in a clay pot that’s only slightly larger than the bulb, but large enough to put about an inch of soil between the bulb and the inner wall of the pot. Press the soil firmly until the surface is just up to the pot rim. Adjust planting depth of bulb until its neck and a little of the top of bulb shows just above the soil line.
When the planting has been completed, set the pot in a sunny window and give the plant only enough water to make the soil slightly moist. If the flower within the bulb is in the correct stage of development, it will open its pretty blossom sometime during the Christmas season. Continue to give your flower the recommended care and it should stay in good condition until it can be planted outdoors in the late spring.
After the danger of low temperatures has passed, plant your amaryllis in well-prepared soil of an outdoor bed that gets at least six hours of sun daily. Gently remove the bulb from the pot, cut off the flower stalk and plant at a depth that allows the top of the bulb to barely show above the soil surface. Should you have been given more than one bulb, space them about 8 inches apart. With continued good care, not only will they produce pretty flowers each spring, but they will also multiply.
After flowering each year, cut off the flower stalk as soon as the bloom is no longer pretty, dig up any oversized clumps and replant only the largest bulbs. Watering may only be necessary if a lengthy period of dry weather should occur.
Joe White is a retired horticulturist with the LSU Ag Center.
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Joe White: Culture of the amaryllis bulb