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The "Wow!" Flower

Amaryllis is easy to grow and has spectacular blooms. Get a big bulb and be prepared to be amazed!

Amaryllis
Amaryllis is easy to grow and has spectacular blooms. Get a big bulb and be prepared to be amazed!

“Wow! Look at that flower!”

That’s what you’ll hear when you grow an amaryllis.

Amaryllis is easy to grow and has spectacular blooms. Here are some tips to maximize its wow factor:

Get a huge bulb. Go online or go to your garden center and buy the biggest bulb you can. Big bulbs will send up more than one flower stalk and your amaryllis will bloom for weeks! Less expensive bulbs sold in kits at big box stores are good but will send up only one flower stalk.

Use a heavy pot. Amaryllis can grow over 30 inches. Use a stable pot that won’t tip over. When you plant the bulb, keep a third of it above the soil line. There should be an inch gap between the bulb and the pot.

Jumpstart the bulb. The bulb can be slow to sprout. Place the potted bulb in a warm spot like on a seed starter mat or a radiator to wake it up.

Give it sunshine. Once it starts growing, move the pot to a sunny window. Be prepared for action. You’ll swear it grows so quickly you can actually hear it grow. It will lean toward the sun so rotate the plant weekly to keep it symmetrical.

Get ready to be amazed. Wait until you see the giant blooms—they are magnificent!

Extend the show. Lengthen the bloom time by placing your plant in a bright, cool (60s) spot away from direct sunlight.

Some gardeners pluck the stamens that come out of the blooms. This prevents pollen from dropping onto, and decaying the petals. I think the stamens add to the beauty of the flower, and I leave them alone.

Encore! Encore! Once all the flowers have faded, we need to recharge the bulb so it blooms again next year. Trim the flower stalk down to a couple inches from the base. Place your amaryllis near a sunny window. The bulb is exhausted, and we need the leaves to re-fill the bulb with energy. Water and fertilize regularly all summer.

When the foliage begins to yellow in early fall, the bulb is re-filled.

Clip off the leaves and place the bulb in a cool (50s), dark spot for eight weeks. A basement is a good place for this.

Repot the bulb in early November. New shoots will emerge, and your holidays will again be filled with its dazzling beauty!

Written by Tom Kalb, Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Photo courtesy of stux from Pixabay. 

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