How to grow amaryllis

Amaryllis flowers are colorful in the middle of winter, making them popular plants for the Christmas season. The tropical bulb does not have to be composted when the blooms fade, in fact it can be planted in the garden with your other summer flowers once the weather turns warm.

In a natural cycle the amaryllis will bloom in spring or early summer, and is happy to revert to that if you are in a frost free area. Those who are in cooler zones have to winter over the bulbs inside.

When your Christmas blooms have faded, cut the flower stalk off, but not the long, strap-like leaves. Most seasonal plants are in a pretty container that is not meant for permanent growth, so repot your amaryllis into a regular plant pot that has holes for drainage. Use a light potting mix and plant the bulb so that the top one third of the bulb is above the soil line. Water lightly and place in a warm, bright location. When you are past your last frost and the weather has settled into a warm pattern, plant the bulb into the garden. Of course, if you prefer, you can keep the bulb in a container, inside or outside, instead of planting in the ground in the garden.

When early fall arrives, well before the first frost, the upper leaves turn brown and the bulb can be repotted to bring inside. Trim all the dead leaves off the bulb and place into a cool location for a few weeks to keep it dormant. By October you can bring the plant out of dormancy to start growing again and produce the flower for your winter holiday table. If you prefer, you can keep the bulb cool and dry for the whole winter and replant next spring, after the danger of frost has passed, and wait for it to produce an early summer flower.

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