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Preparing Flowers For the Holidays

By Jos Van Hage

Sunday, October 26, 2008 03:45 AM

Amaryllis is a Christmas favourite!

Christmas may be week’s away but now is the time to get your Christmas flowers ready.

The Amaryllis bulbs are now available in the garden centers and should be planted now if you want them to bloom in time for Christmas. If you have never grown an Amaryllis it is certainly worth the time and effort as you will not be disappointed by the spectacular display of flowers the bulb produces. The bulb produces an 18 inch stalk, and each stalk will produce 4-6 flowers with each flower spanning 8 inches across. If you purchase a large bulb you will get more flowers for a longer period of time. A large bulb will produce a second stalk of flowers and sometimes a third stem of flowers. Not all the stalks will bloom at the same time as they tend to bloom one after the other so the flower display for go on for a few weeks. 

 Amaryllis bulbs are very easy to grow so that children and adults alike would enjoy planting the bulb and watching it grow. When choosing a bulb, pick a large bulb as the bulb is actually the storage house for the flowers so the larger the bulb the more flowers you will get. After you have the bulb you will need to choose a pot that is 2 inches wider than the bulb. I recommend choosing a clay pot and soaking it in water for a few hours before planting it up. It is also a good idea to place some rocks in the bottom of the pot to give it some weight because the bulb when in full bloom can become top heavy and fall over. Always choose a high quality potting soil to plant the bulb in. To plant the bulb, using one hand hold the bulb over the pot so that all the roots are hanging down into the pot, and then with the other hand fill the pot with the potting soil. The neck and upper portion of the bulb should be above the soils surface and the lower part of the bulb and roots are under the soil. Press the soil down around the bulb and then give the soil enough water to make it moist. Do not pour water on the bulb. Find a sunny, warm (18-20 C.) location to place the planted bulb. At first you want to be careful with your watering because you do not want the bulb to rot, so only water enough to keep the soil slightly moist. When you begin to see growth you will then increase on the water because now the plant will need more moisture in order for it to grow well. As the bulb is growing you will want to turn it every few days so that it gets even growth, because they grow towards the light. It can take anywhere from 8-10 weeks from planting the bulb to having it produce flowers.

If you want to try something a little different, try planting the amaryllis bulb in a clear water filled vase similar to the same way you can grow hyacinths. You can choose 2 different methods both of which work well. The first method would be using decorative rocks or beads. You will want enough to fill the bottom half of the vase and the vase should be wide enough to hold the bulb inside it and 10-12 inches high. Place the decorative rock in the bottom half of the vase. When the vase is half full of the rock place the bulb on top of the rocks with the roots of the bulb underneath the bulb and the bulb facing up.  Next fill the vase with water so that the water is just below the rocks surface and not touching the bulb. You will see that the bulbs roots will go in search for the water and go down through the rock. Place it in a sunny warm location and replenish the water when needed. The other way of planting an amaryllis in water is by using a 10-12 inch vase that has a tapered neck or has an hour glass shape. The bulb should fit into the vase half way down so that it does not fall over later when it is in full bloom. Fill the bottom half of the vase with water so that when you place the bulb in the vase, the bulb itself is not touching the water but the bulbs roots are dangling in the water. Place it in a warm sunny location and replenish the water as needed and if the water becomes dirty change it periodically. All three methods of planting work well but if you want to save your bulb for next year you should use the soil method.
As the blooms finish blooming remove them from the stalk and once all the blooms have been removed from the stalk, cut the stalk back to within 1 inch from the bulb. Do this for all the stalks that the plant will produce. After the bulb has finished blooming it will produce some long leaves. You can either toss the bulb into the compost or save it for next year. If you want to save it, you should let it remain in the soil and allow it to continue to grow treating it as you would any other house plant. At the end of May plant the bulb outside for the summer in a shady location and fertilize it with bulb food. In September after the first killing frost dig up the bulb, give it a rest by storing it for 6-8 weeks and replant it in the house again. It should bloom again in March or April.
*Don’t forget!!! If you saved your poinsettia from last year and want it to bloom for Christmas this year you will need to start giving it 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night and 10 hours of daylight each day. Do this until the bracts of the plant begin showing color after which you treat it as you did before. During this time fertilize it with 12-36-12 a flowering plant fertilizer every other week.


Jos van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp garden Centres in Prince George, :

  • Highway 97 north at  Northwood Pulpmill Road
  • Highway 16 west at Kimball Road

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