Brighten up your Home over the Holidays with an Amaryllis!

The long, dark days of winter are upon us and our gardens outside won’t provide us with joyful flowers for another 4 months or so. That’s why this is the time of year that I like to start one of my favorite flowering plants. It is the Amaryllis Hippaestrum vittatum. If you start one of these giant bulbs now, you’ll enjoy flowers from January right on through February into March. You can also maintain your amaryllis bulb to enjoy again next winter and for many winters into the future if you follow a few simple procedures.

Hippaestrum vittatum is a member of the larger Amaryllidaceae family that includes Clivia and Nerine; summer flowering bulbs that are commonly grown outside in our summer flowerbeds. Another unexpected member of this family is the Agave. Native to Mexico, the Agave is famous for its use in the production of tequila. The flowering bulb we know as Amaryllis is descended from plants that are native to Peru. Remember, the larger the bulb, the more flower stems and flowers you’ll and the longer the flowering period will be.

At Hewitt’s we only sell the very largest Amaryllis bulbs available Amaryllis flowers range in color from pure white to wine red and every variation in between. Banded, striped and bordered hybrids have been developed, transforming an already striking plant into an extraordinary specimen indeed! It is not uncommon for the flower spike to rise 2 ½’ above the top of the bulb and produce flowers 7” across! This coupled with the fact that Amaryllis are so easy to grow as to be foolproof; it’s no wonder that they’re a popular choice for growing during the cold, gray/white days of midwinter. When bring your Amaryllis bulb home from Hewitt’s, inspect the bottom of the bulb and pinch off and dead dried out roots. Any roots that feel fleshy and firm should be left intact.

The pot you use should seem too small for the bulb. It should only be an inch or so wider than the widest part of the bulb. Plant the bulb so that the top ½ to 1/3 of the bulb is exposed above the soil. Water well after potting then put your Amaryllis in a warm spot (on top of the refrigerator works well for me). Don’t water it again until you notice a stem beginning to emerge from the top of the bulb. Once this happens, move you Amaryllis bulb to the brightest location you’ve got and start to keep the soil lightly moist, but not soggy wet (you don’t want to rot the bulb). The stem you noticed growing is the flower spike and it will grow quickly with noticeable growth occurring each day. When the huge flowers begin to open, you can move you Amaryllis to a cooler location to prolong the show of flowers.

The next step is the best. Just enjoy the flowers. You’ll notice that all the buds won’t open at once. As one flower reaches its peak, the next will begin to open so you’l1 enjoy a continuous display for about a month or so. After that you’ll let the leaves enjoy the sun so they can send energy to the bulb where it is stored for the next year’s blooms. To get more information about growing your Amaryllis you can stop in at you local Hewitt’s.

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