When it comes to indoor winter bloom, few plants can equal amaryllis bulbs for the splash of color they produce, or their ease of care. Here's how to get the most from your amaryllis this winter and beyond.
Pot the bulb in a light, humus-rich potting mix in a pot about two inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. Be careful not to bury the "neck"; the top third of the bulb should remain above the potting medium.
Keep the mix barely moist, adding water only when the top inch or so is dry, and keep the pot in a space where the temperature won't fall much below 65 degrees (F). Sprouting can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months, but warmth can help speed the process. Once the bulb sprouts, move it to a sunny spot and water it more frequently as it grows and flowers.
Interestingly, the standard technique of allowing the bulb to grow on through the summer and then drying it off until winter does not usually produce the best floral display. Much better results can be obtained by repotting the bulb as the roots grow and keeping the plant in active growth for as long as possible. Here's how:
After flowering stops, transfer the bulb to a pot four inches wider than the diameter of the bulb. Feed it every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer at one-half the recommended strength.
When the new pot is filled with roots, move the bulb to a container at least 11 to 12 inches in diameter.
As soon as the weather has warmed, with night temperatures remaining above 60, set the pot outside in full sun for the summer. Never allow the soil to dry out, and continue fertilizing it until the middle or end of August. The plant may be left outside until frost threatens; at that point, move them to a sunny window. By this point, it will probably look a bit tattered, and the leaves may die off by late December. Nevertheless, do not allow the it to dry out. In late January the flower spikes will begin to appear.
Remember: for the bulb to produce multiple flower stalks, it must be encouraged to produce as many leaves as possible. In order to put on a spectacular display, the bulb must produce an abundance of food—a process that requires full sun, regular feeding, ample root room and adequate moisture.