If you were asked to name the iconic flower of Christmas, you would probably say the poinsettia. However, it is more and more common to see the exceptional flowers of the amaryllis showing up at the heart of the most sumptuous Holiday decorations.
Here's everything you should know about this majestic plant that may one day dethrone the poinsettia to become the queen of the party.
What characterizes an amaryllis?
Amaryllis is a spectacular bulb plant. In our climate, amaryllis is grown indoors. Its flowering coincides with the Christmas period.
Its large trumpet-shaped flowers, which can reach a diameter of 20 cm, somewhat resemble those of a single or double daylily. Its foliage, similar to the daylily in our flowerbeds, is much more discreet and can appear after the flowers.
The flowers, which emerge from the large, fleshy bulb, are presented on sturdy stems that can reach a length of 90 cm. Each flower lasts almost three weeks and, as the blooms follow one another, the spectacle can continue for months.
PLEASE NOTE: The bulbs sold in garden centres are all hybrids. The true amaryllis (amaryllis belladonna), or belladonna lily, is a bulb native to South Africa which rather produces a multitude of small flowers.
How to choose amaryllis bulbs
A beautiful, plump amaryllis bulb guarantees exceptional flowering. The bigger it is, the bigger the flowers will be and the more energy the plant will have. It can also create two or three flower stems and the successive flowerings will last until February.
Among the beautiful choice of colours available in stores, the most common variety is Red Lion, which offers red flowers. Nevertheless, there are amaryllis with white, yellow, pink, salmon or green flowers, plain or two-toned, single or double.
There are also varieties with smaller flowers and cultivars with long, narrow petals.
It’s easy to make an amaryllis bloom the first year.
- Choose a pot whose diameter is barely larger than that of the bulb, which prefers to be cramped. If the pot has no drainage holes, add a layer of gravel to the bottom to ensure good drainage.
- Fill the pot with potting soil like our Premium Potting Mix.
- Place the bulb in the centre of the pot, roots towards the bottom, taking care to leave a third of the bulb out of the ground and out of the pot (this is essential!).
How to care for your amaryllis
Once the bulb is planted, place the pot in a bright location. Water regularly, but not excessively. The potting soil must remain moist, but never soggy.
Every two weeks, dilute a little Organic-based Flower Boost Garden Fertilizer in the water. This will encourage the flowering to be more abundant and of better quality.
The first stem of your bulb should quickly appear, and the flowers will take no more than 6 to 8 weeks to bloom.
TIP: You can delay flowering by placing the bulb in a cool (16 to 18 °C) and darker place, or speed it up by placing it in the sun and increasing the ambient temperature to 20 or 22 °C. So you have a little play!
When to plant amaryllis bulbs for blooms every Christmas
If you want to keep your plant for the following year, once flowering is finished, cut off the yellowing stem, but allow the leaves to grow.
Continue to water and fertilize your plant until its leaves begin to yellow. The bulb can, as a result, rebuild its strength and prepare for its next flowering.
After 4 to 6 months, when the leaves are completely yellow, remove them and stop watering. Your amaryllis will go dormant while it regains its strength. Forget it for 3 to 4 months. This vegetative rest in the cool is essential for the bulbs. Store the pot/bulb in a dark, cool place for dormant stage, then return it to a windowsill or bright spot 6-8 weeks before Christmas.
The appearance of a green shoot at the top of the bulb gives the signal to resume watering. Repot the bulb in new potting soil and place the pot under bright, warm light. You will quickly see the stems grow.
The second flowering of an amaryllis, however, is not as easy to obtain. If you don't want to risk disappointment, get a new bulb every fall.