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Amaryllis Blooms, What Next?

Do they always get this big?

 

by Melissa Bravo - January 19, 2016

This past week, the amaryllis bulb I received as a gift at thanksgiving flowered.

I planted the bulb 41 days ago, so it flowered about six weeks after planting. Which is what the information tag suggested would occur. The bulb came with a packet of soil mix, which I blended into a pot of my own farm blend of potting soil. Whether the extra nutrients in that enriched composted cow manure-amended-soil had anything to do with this impressive specimen seen here, is open for discussion, as I have not had an amaryllis on the table since the days when my dad grew them.

Do they always get this big?

Amaryllis flowers can get very tall copy

We often had amaryllis flowers in the house during the winter when I was growing up. I vividly remember the day we had a black lamb born that was no bigger than a Chihuahua. Dad took a picture of it standing on the kitchen table next to his prized possession, a flowering amaryllis he had bred himself.

My father, Guy Bravo, was one of those farmers born with a green thumb. He was always tinkering with his house plants and determined to hybridize his own creation. I recall he succeeded more than once, which is a feat in itself. Because he had to have spent some time carefully watching his amaryllis flowers open, then at just the right moment when the female stigma indicated it was receptive to pollen, he would have had to manually place pollen from one or more of the male anthers onto the three receptors of the stigma.

Amaryllis stamen copy

In this image of the plant in my kitchen, the anthers are shaped like tiny golf clubs and are curving upwards. The single stigma is extended like a tongue beneath. Note, that in this image, the stigma is not ‘open’ yet. When it is receptive to pollen it will open wide like a three-pointed star with each tip slightly recurved. Now some varieties are not willing to self-pollinate, so my dad would have had more success using pollen from another plant which would mean he had to make sure the donor plant also flowered at exactly the right time.

Phew, that sounds like a lot of work.

It’s a lot easier to propagate amaryllis from the bulb itself. However, if you are really interested in cross-pollinating and growing your own varieties from seed, I found this video online that was amazingly helpful. http://www.amaryllisbulbs.org/2007/11/how-to-pollinate-amaryllis-bulbs.html.

So, what to do with this plant now that it has flowered?

Well first, I needed to remove it from the bathroom window where it’s been hiding out from the frigid north-west wind that has been blowing of late. While the humidity, warmth from the furnace below, and an easterly light was great for flowering in this room, to keep the blooms around for a few days requires indirect light and a cooler temperature of no more than 65°F. Since this is an old farmhouse and quite chilly this time of year, and the kitchen window faces south (which means only indirect light comes into this room), the dining room table is probably where I will leave this beauty for the foreseeable future.

Once the flower petals begin to wilt, I can begin prepping the plant for transition into its vegetative stage. This plant has four flowers on one stalk and what looks like only three on the other. So, as each individual bloom withers, I will cut the flower off just in back of the bloom. About where the pedicel of the spent flower joins the stem in a visible green bump. Later on, after the flowers have shriveled up and been removed in this way, I will cut each of the stems to about 2 inches from the top of the bulb at soil level.

amaryllis stamen and anthers copy

Now, some bulbs may or may not have grown leaves yet. If the plant does have leaves, leave them be, if it doesn’t have any leaves, just wait – it will. Once I am done trimming, I’ll place the pot back in direct sunlight and let the plant grow out again. As this is the vegetative phase of this species, I will not see another flower stalk until next winter. If desired, I can plant the bulb outdoors. There is no need to remove the plant from the pot. But if you do need to repot yours, do so quickly and gently. The bulb will have developed a lot of roots by spring time and you don’t want to injure them.

To trick amaryllis plants into flowering again, bring them back indoors in the fall. Remove the spent leaves as they fade. It is also important to remove some of the spent surface soil and add some fresh mix at this time. One good watering should be sufficient and then tuck the bulbs away in a cool dark place for at least six to eight weeks.

amaryllis bulb in pot copy

Now in order to get flowers at say Christmas time, you will want to bring the bulbs back into natural light six to eight weeks before flowering is desired. Place the bulb in a room temperature location in your house, water well just once and start the process all over again. Remember to monitor each bulb’s water needs. Not too much, but regularly, so that the bulb does not dry out as it produces a new flower stalk.

If you did not remember to plant your amaryllis bulbs around thanksgiving, there is still time to get them started in mid-February and have them flower at the end of March for Easter. Amaryllis plants can flower at any time of year so long as you follow the propagation procedures recommended to ensure the bulb can reproduce again and again.

Oh, by the way, don’t be surprised if your amaryllis flower does not match the picture on the carton. I am not sure what solid color variety mine is but it is not the variegated Hippeastrum ‘Minerva’ as the carton suggested. To try to identify your flowering variety, check out the images at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/amaryllis-bulbs-by-variety.html.

Amaryllis WHP feature story cover shot copy

Credits:

Writing: N/A

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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