Care and feeding
To make amaryllis bloom again, remove the seed head after flowering and let the leaves develop normally. Then put the pot outdoors in a semi-shaded area after all chance of frost has past.
- Fertilize every month with a water-soluble product such as 20-20-20 to produce lots of healthy, green foliage.
- Keep the pot well watered; don't let it dry out. A mulch of leaves or straw over the surface of the pot will keep soil moist (but watch for pests such as slugs—which can just be picked off—under the mulch).
- In late September, stop fertilizing and watering. When leaves become floppy and yellow, cut them off.
- Bring the pot indoors and store in a cool room, such as an unheated porch or garage; the temperature should not exceed 17°C and never drop below freezing. Don't water.
- After about two months, bring the pot into the house where it's room temperature. Water when a new shoot appears, not before; then water twice a week until plant blooms again.
- It's also possible to grow amaryllis in special bulbous vases filled with water, as you would hyacinths, but make sure the bulbs are well anchored and keep topping up the water.
- An innovative method for cultivating amaryllis recently introduced by Dutch growers is dry-flowering, where neither soil nor water is needed. They will bloom on their own on any surface (stick them in a wreath or table display, for instance). Dry-flowering is possible with any pre-cooled amaryllis bulb.
Classified as a miniature (stems reach up to 50 cm) with elegant, lime-streaked, pale green flowers; needs eight weeks to bloom (shown right)
Most have Latin American names such as ‘Lima', ‘La Paz' and ‘Chico'; bulbs are small and more expensive than those of regular amaryllis; they produce spiky, curly petals that look exotic but can be less reliable than regular ones
Hippeastrum ‘Dancing Queen'
Gorgeous, tall (60 cm), double variety, with froths of frilly petticoats in white-and-red stripes; blooms in only six weeks
H. ‘Lady Jane'
Medium-tall (35 cm), with big, double, salmon pink flowers, striped in vermilion and white; needs about eight weeks from planting to bloom
True miniature (30 cm) with lots of charming, bright scarlet flowers on slim stems; can take three months to bloom. Especially good for dry-flowering (as are ‘Red Lion' and ‘Moonlight')
One of the tallest varieties (about 60 cm); heart-stoppingly beautiful; produces white, contoured blooms edged in red with lime green centres; blooms in about seven weeks
H. papilio ‘Butterfly'
Extraordinary conversation piece, with lime green and reddish maroon blooms shaped like butterflies; blooms in about eight weeks; often sends up baby bulbs alongside the primary bulb, so give it a pot with plenty of room
Inset photo: H. ‘Lemon-Lime', courtesy of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre