Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Forcing Amaryllis To Bloom

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are showy flowers that will always draw attention. I fell in love with the bulbs many Lunar New Years ago. Over the years, I have finally perfected the method of forcing these bulbs to bloom over and over again.
If you plan to keep your amaryllis bulb to bloom over and over again, you need to give it a good start and ongoing care. The biggest problems seem to be planting too deep (cover only half the bulb with soil) and/or over watering which cause the bulb to rot, lack of light which makes the foliage weak, and lack of vigorous foliage which makes the bulb weak.
Remember that it all starts with the bulb. If the bulb is not healthy it will not flower.
Selection: Buy the biggest bulb you can find. Make sure it is heavy for its size, firm and plump. There should be no soft spots, no mold, no smell.
Amaryllis bulbs are often packaged like a kit with a small pot and some dry fluffy peat moss rather than a potting soil mix.
After Bloom: After the bulb blooms the first time, either re-pot into a wider but shallow container with good soil or do what I do if you have a garden and feed. Plant the dormant bulbs in the garden to fatten them up.
You may also get offsets (baby bulbs) during this period. Just split them off the main bulb and let them mature. Offsets will have the same flower as the mother bulb.
Bulb Storage: Clean the bulb and place it in a cool, dark place such as the crisper of your fridge for a minimum of 6 weeks. Caution: Do not store amaryllis bulbs in a fridge that contains apples, this will sterilize the bulbs. Store the bulbs for a minimum of 6 weeks.
Plant Again: After 6 weeks you may remove bulbs whenever you would like to plant them. Plant bulbs 3 weeks before you would like them to bloom.
All that you have to do next is plant the bulb in a good potting mix and let nature take its course. Like the paper said just add water.

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