Today was amaryllis day. The poor bulb has been sitting in the box for a couple of days waiting for me to attend to it. I’ve never done an amaryllis before so you get to follow the progress here. I ordered it from White Flower Farm. Here’s the unpacked bulb. To the right is a head of garlic for perspective.
There are two kinds of amaryllis, Dutch and South African. Dutch amaryllis bloom in winter, while South African amaryllis bloom in the fall. If you’re lucky enough to live in zone 9 or 10, you can plant them outdoors, where they’ll bloom in late spring or early summer. But for those of us not so lucky ones, amaryllis is an easy bulb to “force” indoors in the fall or winter.
This particular bulb is called Amaryllis Benfica, a Dutch variety. The flowers will be dark red, supposedly measuring 7-8″ across. Thanks to White Flower Farm’s catalog writer, I have very high expectations for the Amaryllis Benfica:
The shapely blooms and rich, iridescent colors of Amaryllis will light up a winter day like nothing else we know.
The Amaryllis you see offered locally bear absolutely no resemblance to the lusty giants we secure through special contracts with a Dutch grower.
Shapely! Lusty Giant! Steady people…it’s a bulb, not a blow-up doll.
Aaaanyway, it’s easy to pot an amaryllis bulb (thanks to the very detailed directions that WFF provided). First you fill a 6-7″ pot halfway with moist potting soil, and set the bulb on top like so:
Continue to fill with moist potting soil until all but about a third of the bulb is covered, like so:
Since I share my house with a certain Felis sylvestris catus who believes that all dirt is litter, I am compelled to cover the soil with a light layer of peastone. You can also use Spanish moss if you don’t like the looks of a pot full of dirt. (I can’t though, because aforementioned F. sylvestris catus would destroy it in a matter of minutes.) Then, the potted bulb goes in a sunny window where the temperature remains above 60 degrees F.
Warmer is better…the warmer you keep it, the faster the amaryllis will grow. WFF suggests providing “bottom heat,” using a heated propagation mat, or placing the pot on top of the refrigerator. Water only when the top inch of the potting soil is dry to the touch–overwatering can cause the bulb to rot. Rotate the pot periodically so that all sides get even sun. In about 8-10 weeks, it’s supposed to look like this:
I’ll keep you posted on its progress, making sure to let you know as it becomes shapely and lusty.