Amaryllis bulbs are a great gift to give a budding gardener. The bulbs are easy to grow to flowering and, if cared for properly, will bloom again next winter. These large bulbs require little care, other than occasional watering while growing, to get to the full-bloom stage. Native to South America, this bulb can be grown outdoors, too, in warmer climates, but most of us know it as an indoor bulb that is forced into bloom in winter.
The first step is selecting a variety. The color range, flower type, and flower stalk size vary greatly depending on the variety. A traditional amaryllis variety, such as ‘Royal Velvet’, has a 20 to 24 inch tall flower stalk with large red flowers. But plant breeders have expanded the range of flower colors and types. Varieties such as ‘White Peacock’ feature double-petaled, frilly flowers. Many varieties, such as ‘Splash’, feature multiple colors in one flower. Probably the biggest breakthrough in amaryllis breeding is the dwarves. Large-stalked and large-flowered amaryllis varieties can often tip over or grow too big for a space. With dwarf varieties, such as ‘Rapido’, the flowers are smaller and more numerous, and the flower stalk is shorter and more manageable.
One you’ve chosen the perfect variety, it’s simply a matter of potting it up. Choose a container a little larger than the bulb and fill it with moistened potting soil. Place your amaryllis bulb in a warm, brightly lit room and keep it well watered. The bulb won’t grow much for a few weeks, while the roots are getting established. However, within two months of potting, your amaryllis should send up one to three flower stalks with multiple flowers per stalk. Pinch and remove faded flowers and cut the stalks back to the bulb once all the flowers have wilted. Let the leaves form and grow your amaryllis as an outdoor, potted foliage plant on a deck or patio all summer. Fertilize it well and bring it indoors in early fall. Cut back the foliage, stop watering, and let it go dormant for one to two months in a cool, dark place before you start the flowering process all over again.