HEALTHY LIVING: Christmas plants: Amaryllis bulbs well suited here

Published 8:31 pm Saturday, December 24, 2016

By Micah Leigh

You may have received an amaryllis bulb this holiday season, and may be wondering what to do with it. Well, you are in luck. The amaryllis is one of the easiest plants to grow, indoors or out. Native to South America, the amaryllis is well suited to our tropical climate. It comes in several shades of red, white, pink, salmon and orange. There are also multi-colored and striped varieties. The prices can range from $4 to $40 for a single bulb depending on the variety. If your bulb came prepackaged, all you have to do is follow the directions to get it to bloom.

If you have a bare bulb that you intend to grow in a container, place it in lukewarm water for a few hours before you plant.  Use a good potting soil and plant the bulb up to its top being careful not to damage the roots. Press the soil firmly around the bulb to hold it in place. Water lightly.  Place the container in a warm place with direct natural light if possible.  Amaryllis will grow under fluorescent light but only if it is left on around the clock. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.  Once a month, fertilize with a water- soluble plant food. Blooms will appear in 7 to 10 weeks. And they will be spectacular!

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If you want to make it flower again, cut the old flowers from the stem. Then cut the stem down to the bulb when it starts to wither. Continue to water and feed as usual for at least five to six months. When the leaves begin to yellow in early fall, cut the plant back to two inches from the top of the bulb.  Remove the bulb from the soil, clean it and place it in a dark cool place. Your refrigerator will work just fine unless you have apples next to the bulb, in which case, the amaryllis bulb will become sterile. Keep stored for at least six weeks.  After the chill time, decide when you want them to bloom again, and plant eight weeks beforehand.

If all of this seems like too much trouble, you can always plant them outside in your garden. I am a low maintenance gardener. I have many bright red ones that have naturalized in

my flowerbeds. I do nothing special to them and they come back stronger year after year. That’s my favorite kind of plant!

For more information, contact Micah Leigh, Jefferson County Master Gardener

at or call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 409-835-8461.