Linda Geist

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Among indoor flowering plants, few match amaryllis in grandeur, says University of Missouri Extension horticulturist David Trinklein.

Its blooms are spectacular in size and come in many colors and patterns. “In addition to being colorful, it is relatively easy to re-bloom. It can continue to give pleasure to its recipient for many years,” Trinklein said.

If you received an amaryllis as a holiday gift, plan now so it can provide beauty again next year, he said.

The Dutch developed most amaryllis sold today. They hybridized the plant to produce huge, showy flowers and forcing ease. A vigorous bulb can produce up to six flowers, 4-6 inches in diameter, per scape (flower stalk).

Amaryllis is native to the tropical and subtropical Americas. Their tender nature forces us to treat them as greenhouse or houseplants in the Midwest, Trinklein said.

Keep the growing medium uniformly moist, he says. Small bulbs may produce only one scape, while large bulbs may produce two or three. After the last flower fades, cut off the scapes and put the plant in a bright place if you want it to bloom again next year. Give the plant a houseplant fertilizer according to label directions. Let the leaves to continue to grow.

Amaryllis re-blooms with relative ease, but the plant needs to make and store food in its bulb to prepare for the process. Expose the plant to bright light during the growth period after flowering has ended. The plant needs adequate water and fertilizer for maximum food production during this period. After the danger of frost passes, move the plant outdoors into a lightly shaded setting. This helps growth and improves subsequent blooming.

In September, bring the plant inside. Allow the plant to become dormant for several months by keeping it cool and not watering. Leaves wither and dry during this phase. Remove leaves.

Bring it out of dormancy by watering and placing it where it is warm. Amaryllis is tropical by nature and responds well to high temperatures day and night. A minimum of 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 degrees at night is ideal during the growth cycle of the plants. Avoid temperatures lower than 50 degrees to avoid injury to the plant. Amaryllis needs six to eight weeks from the beginning of growth to the production of flowers.

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