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Amaryllis

Question:

Received a wonderful Amaryllis bulb/plant as a gift.  I think I understand about how to water but still wonder if I should also “mist” it or not

Answer:

Misting may help keep the foliage clean in a dusty environment, but it does not raise the humidity as is commonly believed. It certainty does no harm to mist, but the benefits are not significant. Humidifiers and pebble trays do raise humidity but Amaryllis is not a plant that requires high humidity anyway.

Proper care of Amaryllis is a bit complicated and not generally understood. That is because Amaryllis have a fall dormant period that is required for flowers during the holiday season.

After your Amaryllis has finished flowering, cut off the entire flower stalk at its base. By then you should have several strap-like leaves. It is important that these leaves grow strong and healthy in direct sunlight so they can restore the bulb over the course of the next 7-8 months. Do NOT repot your Amaryllis as it must stay potbound in order to bloom again. Water the soil thoroughly as soon as the top half-inch of soil is dry. Once per month, fertilize with a basic plant food, but at half the recommended strength. The inportant thing is to provide as much direct sunlight as possible throughout the day. An uncovered south window is best. Keep up this routine until early September.

In the early fall stop watering completely. Allow the leaves to yellow and die back. It will look ugly, so you can cut off the leaves as they discolor. In the fall, the plant does not require any light. Because it is rather unattractive as it goes into dormancy, it is best to stick it out of sight where it will stay completely dry.

After 8 weeks or more of dormancy, your Amaryllis will be ready to be awakened. Do this by taking the plant to the sink and thoroughly soaking the soil and roots in the sink just once. Again, do NOT repot it. Move it to a warm location. After a few weeks you will see new growth emerge from the top of the bulb and flowers will emerge about a month or so after taking it out of dormancy. If you provided good light through the summer and proper dormancy through the fall, then the new growth will be a flower stalk. Otherwise, you will get just new leaves, in which case you will probably have to repeat the process and wait until the following year to get flowers.

Amaryllis require quite a bit of attention for most of the year and then flower for only a week or two each year. However, as the bulbs age they become larger and start to produce multiple flower stalks with more flowers.