First out for the Holidays – amaryllis – a bulb of great potential!
By Ralph E. Mitchell
Of all of the holiday plants available, amaryllis bulbs often appear first and are now for sale in many local garden centers – in fact, I just bought one! With flowers up to twelve inches in diameter, and up to six in cluster, these plants show off colors in shades of pink, red and white with uses in containers or the landscape. More good news – the amaryllis is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ recommended plant!
Perhaps the most popular use of amaryllis at this time of year is as a container plant. Now is an acceptable time to pot up an amaryllis bulb. Amaryllis are sometimes available already sprouted or in ready-to-plant kits. Otherwise, starting from scratch is no problem! Select a container which is big enough to allow two inches of space between the bulb and the side of the pot. The pot should have some weight to it as the Amaryllis may get a bit top-heavy as it grows. After covering the drainage holes with pieces of broken pottery, adding a two to three-inch layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot will help add weight to light pots to prevent tipping. Add several inches of potting medium and center the bulb and roots and fill in the soil so that half the bulb is exposed. Water the bulb in well and set the pot in a bright location. Don’t water the bulb again until it begins to sprout. As the bulb begins to sprout, set the pot in a, warm location that receives several hours of direct sun. Resume the watering to ensure even moisture without overwatering. As soon as the flowers open, move the plant to a bright, indirect light out of the direct sun. This will allow the flowers to stay at their prime for a longer period of time. Once the flowers have faded and have been removed, move the plant into a light shade area. Water and feed the plant to promote new growth. Containerized plants can be left in the original pots for two or more years.
For landscape uses, you can plant amaryllis bulbs anytime, but winter is the ideal season. Amaryllis tolerate full sun to part shade, but often do best in the light shade you might find under a tall pine tree in well drained, compost enriched soil. Clumps of ten plants of the same color look best when planting in the landscape. Set the bulbs twelve to fifteen inches apart and deep enough so that the neck of the bulb is just showing above the soil. Water the bulbs in well and there after until they are established. Water is important for good growth throughout the growing season. Make sure to remove dead blooms before the seeds develop. This will keep the plant looking neat and helps promote flowers for next year instead of producing seed pods.
Traditionally, this is the season to start your amaryllis in pots – add one of these lovely flowering bulbs to your collection today! For more information on all types of flowering bulbs suitable for our area , or to ask a question, please visit https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteMGLifeline/. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget that Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is a program that our office encourages as it promotes planting the “right plant in the right place”, water conservation, common sense pest management, sensible use of fertilizers, composting, etc. that help develop a sustainable landscape. For more information on this important, over-arching program, please contact Sara Weber, FFL Education-Training Specialist, at Sara.Weber@charlottecountyfl.gov .
Park, S. B. Black, R. J. (2017) Amaryllis, The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services, IFAS.