Szerlag: Amaryllis in new colors
After the glitz and glitter of the holidays are past, folks are usually in need of a pick-me-up, and gorgeous blooming amaryllis bulbs fill the bill perfectly. If you have passed on them because red is not your color, you’re in for a great surprise. The newer varieties come in a host of colors including white, pink, green and green with burgundy accenting. “Sweet Nymph,” a luscious pink double flower with fine white striping that measures 7 inches across, and “Evergreen,” which produces long narrow light green petals that evoke a tropical feel with each stem and makes a bouquet of six or more flowers, are favorites of mine.
Amaryllis is easy to grow. All you need is a pot with a drainage hole that is slightly larger than the diameter of the bulb. Add enough soil to the pot so that when the bulb is added, the shoulder of the bulb is level with the rim. Fill in around the bulb with potting soil and tamp it down lightly. The soil level should be an inch lower then the top of the pot and the shoulders of the bulb should be exposed. Place it in a south-facing window.
The amaryllis bulb contains all the nutrients needed, so no fertilizer is required to get it to flower. Water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.
Flowering varies from two to eight weeks depending on the variety and amount of sun it gets.
If you want to save the bulb and have it re-bloom next year, remove the faded flower stalks by cutting them 3 inches above the bulb. Leave the foliage intact so it can re-nourish the bulb, and place the pot in a sunny location. Fertilize monthly with an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer, such as Jack’s Classic. When all threat of frost has passed, move the potted bulb outdoors to a sunny spot in the garden. It may be planted in the ground. In fall, just after frost has blackened, cut the leaves off at the base and store the dry bulb in a cool basement for eight to 10 weeks. Then pot it in moist soil and water and follow the growing directions above. Folks have been known to grow flowers from these bulbs for decades.
The best place to find good quality and unusual amaryllis bulbs is a garden center or specialty mail-order house such as Longfield Gardens — longfield-gardens.com, (855-534-2733) — or White Flower Farm — whiteflowerfarm.com, (800) 503-9624.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question, go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnews.com/homestyle.