I like hippeastrum. What are hippeastrum you ask? We know them as amaryllis. When I write that I like them, I mean I’m a hipp-aholic. They brighten my house with their stately blooms before Christmas and after. Growing amaryllis is easy, and I want you to grow them too.
Plus, thanks to Longfield Gardens, I get to give one of my readers a ‘Red Lion’ amaryllis bulb of your very own. If you’re in a hurry and want to bypass the drawing, here’s a link to their bestselling amaryllis. Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors and Kylee Baumle of Our Little Acre are joining me in this fun giveaway. It was actually Robin’s idea.
We’re all sharing our personal experiences growing these easy and fun bulbs. Plus, we’re giving away a three-pack of Annie Haven’s manure tea as fertilizer. If you didn’t win in my last contest, here’s another chance.
I share a lot on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest about forcing bulbs and corms in winter because I really can’t stand the quiet season. I pretend that I enjoy winter all the way through Advent and Christmas, but once the tree is put away; the carols are sung; and Christ’s birth is celebrated, I become sullen and bored. Frankly, I wish I were a bear and could hibernate until mid-March when at least the crocus are blooming.
And, don’t even talk to me about Valentine’s Day. What a disappointment that is.
Because winter is so NOT my favorite season, I play around with hyacinths, Iris reticulata, different Narcissus tazetta (paperwhites) and muscari. Plus, this year, I’m also trying to grow Fritillaria meleagris, ranunculus and freesias. We’ll see how those last two go. They have “special requirements.”
Today, however, we’re growing amaryllis the easy way. First, we’re not forcing these bulbs to bloom. They are tropical, so they want to grow and bloom for you in your home They truly do. As I wrote above, they are really hippeastrum, but no one except British gardeners, who are good about all things botanical Latin, call them that. William Herbert, who was a British botanist, named them hippeastrum, which means “knight’s star lily” or something along those lines. I can’t find anywhere why, but a lot of amaryllis have star-like blooms. Perhaps, that was his methodology.
As for growing, I think the best way to grow amaryllis is in potting soil. I’ve grown them on pebbles and in water, but soil has the best results. If you buy a kit at the nursery or Target, you’ll get a pot and some coir that must be rehydrated. If you want your plant to bloom again next year, substitute good potting soil. Then, throw that coir onto the compost pile. Although kits are fun, you can save yourself a lot of money putting together your own basket or other container with pretty amaryllis and moss. I use my containers year-after-year.
I seem to be on a completely natural kick this year. Usually, I force some plants in fancy bulb containers, but greenhouse terracotta felt right this winter.
Here’s how to grow amaryllis:
Pick the largest bulb you can find, but note that some unusual varieties will be smaller naturally. If you want a unique bulb, you may need to order online, and there is still time to order your own amaryllis. After seeing some white doubles on Pinterest, I bought three ‘White Nymph.’ They are up and growing. I hope they bloom by Christmas, but I have several others that I’m waiting to see after the holidays when I’m bored out of my skull. Cybister-type hippeastrum are especially interesting. One year I grew ‘La Paz.’
Take the pot and fill it up over halfway with potting soil. Set the bulb down on it gently spreading its roots over the surface of the soil. Then, put soil up to the shoulders of the bulb. Water the soil around the bulb gently. Don’t get water inside the bulb if possible.
You can also place pebbles or moss around the bulb to give it a finished look.
Also, build in some support from the beginning. Otherwise, your beautiful flowers will fall over onto the ground. This year, I’m using bamboo sticks and green twine to support mine. I think it looks nice with the moss and stones. Last year, I bought copper amaryllis supports, and I liked them too. Amaryllis grow extremely fast once they get started. However, they can be unpredictable about when they plan to start. That’s why it’s important to like them not just for Christmas.
As they grow, turn them everyday. That way, they will grow straight and tall. If they start to lean toward the light, just turn them again, and they will straighten up. Some people suggest a quarter turn each day, but I don’t have time for that.
Now for the contest. Just comment below and join my subscription list–the button is on the sidebar–and I’ll pick one comment/signup with a random number generator. You can also follow the directions on Robin and Kylee’s posts for two more chances to win. This contest is only open to the continental U.S.A. The contest runs through Midnight November 30, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent. Speaking of Advent, we’ll also be sharing our amaryllis every day showing their growth and bloom throughout the Advent season. Look for them on Pinterest–I made a special Pinterest board–Twitter, Google+ and even maybe Facebook with the hashtag, #AmaryllisAdvent. Please share yours too. Maybe we’ll create an amaryllis movement!
Seriously though, I hope you’ll either order a bulb online, or rescue one of those sad boxes from the box stores or your local nursery. Consider, also, giving already-growing amaryllis as gifts–that is–if you can part with them.