Giving plants as holiday gifts is a wonderful tradition. Amaryllis is a popular bulb that is often grown indoors around Christmas time. The showy flowers come in many colors and the plant is relatively low maintenance. According to Master Gardener Extension Volunteer and professional horticulturist Travis Jordan, amaryllis is fairly easy to grow and care for even after the holiday is over and you just might be rewarded with another impressive flower showing next year if you do it right.
Travis says, "Once your amaryllis has finished blooming, cut off the faded blooms and stalks to about an inch or two from the base of the bulb. Don’t cut the leaves as they help produce food for next year’s flowers. You’ll have a plant with leaves at this point. Treat it as you would any other houseplant. Place it in an area where it will get a good deal of sun, such as a southern exposure window. Give it some fertilizer such as a slow release like Osmocote or other general-purpose houseplant fertilizer.
“When the danger of frost has passed, put the pot outside in a partially shaded location. Keep watering and feeding the amaryllis until August, then start withholding watering until September. In September, store the bulb for two months in a cool dark location. Cut the foliage only after it has wilted and died back.
“In November, replace the top inch or so with new soil, or repot altogether and bring back into the light and warmth and water again to start the cycle for another year.
“Sometimes bulbs will not bloom again the year following the initial planting. Some possible reasons include too little sun, uneven watering habits (too much or too little water), or too little or too much fertilizer. It is important to note that too much fertilizer can be lethal to your bulb, so if in doubt, use less. You cannot kill a bulb with too little fertilizer."
For more information on lawn and gardening topics, contact Paulding County UGA Cooperative Extension at 770-443-7616 look for us online at www.ugaextension.com/paulding.