Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > November 2014 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Growing a Giant...

BONNIE'S GARDEN--Growing a Giant...

Just a couple of weeks ago, I moved my amaryllis, which have been summering on the back deck, inside so they can dry out before I “put them to sleep” for their dormant period.  I’ve only got 20 now, down from the two dozen I had.  I potted my three miniature Scarlet Baby amaryllis into one pot to simplify things and found homes for a couple of “duplicates” to make room to add a few newcomers to my entourage.

The botanical name for what we call ‘amaryllis’ is really ‘Hippeastrum.’  ‘Hippeastrum’ means ‘Horseman’s Star’ in Greek.  Amaryllis correctly refers to South African members of the Amaryllidaceae—the Amaryllis family.  Up until 1987, these particular bulbs were all called Amaryllis but were re-classified as the Hippeastrum branch of the Amaryllidaceae—the Amaryllis Family. 

The Amaryllidaceae Family includes such varied and interesting plants as Agapanthus (Lily-of-the-Nile), Narcissus (Daffodils), Alliums (garlic, onions and ornamental onions), Lycoris (Naked Ladies, Resurrection Lilies, Surprise Lilies, Spider Lilies), Galanthus (Snowdrops), and Zephranthes (Rain Lilies, Fairy Lilies.)

All of these plants have one thing in common, however.  They all evolved in places where there is a period of drought they want to escape so all need a dormant period.  For most of the amaryllis family members we grow in our gardens (snowdrops, daffodils, Lycoris, etc.) they generally go dormant during the summer.  For those we grow indoors, we have to provide that dormant period.

I’ve just brought my “amaryllis” in for the winter.  They are now sitting in my utility room, drying out.  Once they are completely dry, I’ll cut the leaves off and store the bulbs (in their pots) someplace cool, dark and dry for a ten-week period.  In my house, some go in the attic, a few more go in the back of the hall closet.  If you have a basement or an attached garage, that will work, too.  I’ll check on the  bulbs after eight weeks or so—there are a few varieties that are a little more eager to bloom than others so if I see a fat little bloom shoot beginning to show, I’ll bring that pot out early.  The rest I’ll leave at least ten weeks, some I’ll leave twelve (so I don’t have them blooming all at once.)

Once my bulbs begin to grow leaves, I’ll begin fertilizing.  I have used 20-20-20, African violet food—whatever I have on hand.  They just like to be fed.  Once they have finished blooming, I’ll cut the flower stalk all the way back, but will not disturb the foliage.  I’ll keep the pot in a sunny window and keep it fed until the end of April or first of May, when I’ll move it outside for the summer.  Once outside, I sometimes forget to feed it, so I usually go for some Osmocote slow release.  Next October, I’ll start the whole dormancy process again.

We just got amaryllis in so have a great selection.   You’re not just limited to red anymore.  There are miniature flowered varieties, dramatic spidery flowers, and elegant double-flowered varieties.  A few varieties to look for are Black Pearl (dramatic burgundy flowers), Red Lion (traditional holiday red), Apple Blossom (soft pink and white flowers), and Minerva (red with a white star in the middle).  If you want something a little different, try one of the miniatures—Baby Star (red with a white star in the center); Exotic Peacock (red and white stripes); or Chico (dramatic spidery green and red) or try one of the beautiful double flowered varieties—Double Dragon is one of my favorites with fully double red flowers.  Whichever variety you try, they are all beautiful and easy to re-bloom from year to year.

By the way, if you want to keep your regular amaryllis from getting TOO tall--give them as much sunlight as possible.  That will keep them at a manageable two to three foot height.  If that is still a bit tall for you, then most of the double flowered amaryllis will stay a few inches shorter and the miniatures will usually top out at eighteen to twenty inches.
Posted: 11/10/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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