Amaryllis is often confused with lilies however the truth is that they are distantly related to the Lilium or true lily. It is a bulbous plant and belongs to small genus that has two species. It is, of course, the better known bulb of the two. Native of South Africa, amaryllis is often used as a common name for the cultivars of the genus Hippeastrum as well. Plants of the Amaryllis family are naked lady, Eastern lily, Jersey lily and belladonna lily.
The planting period of Amaryllis is from October to April. The blooming phase for the plant is usually from late December to June-end. The time taken for flowering by plant is 7 to 10 weeks. The size and the health of the bulbs indicate the health of flowers. The more the size of bulbs, the healthier the flowers will be. If you are using bulbs for the plant, it is advised to keep them stored at the cooler temperature.
Usually, amaryllis is a hardy plant and can survive toughest of the conditions be it indoors or outside. They bloom easily as well. This quality makes them the favorite of gardeners all over the world. The color of the trumpet-shaped flowers range from combining shades of red-white, pink-red, striped versions of the color or monochromes red, orange, pink or white.
The roots and base of unused bulbs that are kept in freezing temperature should be kept in lukewarm water for some time. This needs to be done if you can’t plant the bulb immediately after receiving them from the nursery.
It is advised to plant bulbs in the compost that provides nutritious environment to the plant. You can also get pre-mix compost from your florist. After mixing the compost in soil thoroughly, you need to plan the bulb up to its neck. However, ensure that you don’t damage the root in the process. After planting the bulb, firm the soil with gentle tap of the hands.
Direct light is must after you have planted the bulb as the generated heat induces the growth of the plant. The temperature of the bulb should remain 68-80 F to stimulate the stem. You don’t have to water much until you can see the stem shooting out from the bulb. Increase the water gradually once you start seeing leaves and buds. Upon reaching maturation, the stem and flowers grow rapidly.
The time taken by bulbs to flower is 7-10 weeks. In winters, this time period can extend as well. Hence, it is advised to plant the bulbs between October and April to enjoy the colorful assortment of amaryllis flowers just in time. If you want to enjoy the colorful blooms continuously, plant the bulbs within the intervals of 2 weeks.
You can still induce flowering in amaryllis even after it has stopped flowering. All you need to do is to cut the old blooms from the stem when the flowering stops. The sagged stem has to be cut back to the topmost part of the bulb.
To ensure proper development and growth of the leaves, you need to continue watering and fertilizing the plant all summer without fail. This will ensure that leaves grow fully for at least 5-6 months. When the leaves start to wilt and fade in color in early fall, you should cut the leaves from the top part of the bulb to about 2 inches. Afterwards, take the bulb carefully out of the soil without damaging the roots in the process. Place the bulb in a cooler and dark place. You need to store them for at least 6 weeks and you can also store them in refrigerator too as long as you don’t plan to keep apple in it. If you do, apple can render the bulbs sterilize.
After refrigerating them for six weeks, you can plant the bulbs. Wait for at least 8 weeks to see buds and flowers springing out of them.
Amaryllis grown in greenhouses is more prone to diseases, pests and rodents than the ones grown in homes. This could be because of the sanitation and hygiene maintained at home that prevent the onset of diseases. Usually, amaryllis becomes prone to the onslaught of narcissus bulb fly that tends to give eggs in the bulbs during summer. Gardeners tend to keep the bulbs outside in the summer and this is when the eggs are hatched. The eggs hatch into larvae, which make their way to the interior scales of bulbs resulting in the wilted, dead and distorted leaves. The plants eventually die after an infestation.
Usually, you don’t even realize the onset of infestation because the exterior tissue looks completely normal. It is when you press the interior tissue and you realize the rotting layer. At this time, it is best to destroy the infested bulbs because no infanticide can reverse the damage.
Apart from this, red blotch is also a disease that impacts the plant. This fungus infection can cause red blotches on the leaves that can lead to crackers on the leaves and stalks. Like the larvae infestation it is difficult to recognize the early onset of this disease because such red patches are also found on the healthy amaryllis bulbs but unlike the larvae, it doesn’t cause death for the plant. Good sanitation, spray of organic fungicide and floral mix can curb the growth of fungus in plant.