Amaryllis Secrets

Amaryllis are one of the easiest of bulbs to force and is certainly the most elegant and spectacular of the forcing bulbs. Paperwhites pale in comparison to these gigantic flowers native to South Africa and South America. And for our interested botany-gardener types, note that Amaryllis is the common name for the Hippeastrum family. Our commonly potted bloomer is a cross between various selection of H. vittatum and bred back to itself to give us a huge blooms for an extended period. I would be delighted to share more information with you but even research with Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre pointed out that at best the genetics and naming of these bulbs is chaotic and at the worst, totally incomprehensible. No matter what you call them, you might find them surviving the winters in zones nine to eleven. You will not find them very frost tolerant. This is an indoor bulb.

Plant in a sterilized potting soil. You can put as many bulbs into a pot as you like as long as you leave an inch or so between bulbs as well as the edge of the pot. I find that immersing the bulbs in tepid water for at least an hour before planting awakens and rehydrates the bulb. Moistening the roots also helps to make them more pliable (they get dried out and brittle in storage) and this helps prevent root damage. Leave approximately one third of the bulb above the soil line and always water with warm water. Grow the bulbs in bright sunlight until the blossoms begin to open. Do note that this plant grows toward the light and you will have to rotate the pot a quarter turn every few days to slow down its leaning.

Doug Green, an award winning garden author, answers your gardening questions at his free gardening newsletter at

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