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Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Visit the stores with their holiday resplendence and notice the displays of amaryllis bulbs. Amaryllis are a very popular holiday gift plant that become more popular each year. They are sold as bulbs or in bud or bloom and require minimal care for their showy flowers..

The flower resembles a lily although it is not a member of that family but a tropical bulb originally imported from Central and South America. It does not tolerate frost so in our area it is an indoor plant. Although the normal flowering season is January through April, the flowers are often forced so they are ready the December holidays.

Most amaryllis plants are already potted before they are sold or you can buy the bulbs separately. In general the larger the bulb, the larger the blooms so you will likely get what you pay for.

If you buy a plant not yet in bloom, keep the pot mix slightly moist through sub-irrigation with warm water. Fill the saucer and let the soil absorb the water. After 30 minutes, discard any water that remains in the saucer.

Place your amaryllis in a warm, location. The plants do not need sun to bloom as all the energy they need to produce the flowers is contained inside the bulbs. The bulbs need heat so keep the temperature as uniform as possible between 70 to 75 degrees F both day and night.

Larger bulbs are more likely to have multiple flower stalks. To make a plant flower for a special occasion, start five to six weeks before the selected date. To encourage early flowering, place the pot in a warmer location. To slow growth, move to a cooler spot (around 50 degrees F) when the first bud is about to open.

After your amaryllis has bloomed, save the bulbs to reflower in subsequent years. Start by removing the flowers as they fade. Continue to water the potted bulb regularly throughout the winter. When temperature at night get above 50 degrees, plant the bulbs outside in a semi shaded location.

In September, take the potted amaryllis out of the garden before the first frost, and place it in a dry, warm place. Stop watering completely. When the leaves turn yellow, cut them off just above the bulb. In late winter, begin watering again for flowers in four to six weeks.

You can find miniature varieties at complete garden stores or through mail order and the Internet. These smaller plants grow to only a foot or so high and have smaller flowers but otherwise look like the traditional ones.

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