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Amaryllis is a small genus of flowering bulbs. They are commonly known as ‘lily’, because of their growth patterns and flower shape, even though they are very distantly related to the actual lily species. They are native to Peru and South Africa. While the white and red varieties are the most popular, they also come in pink, salmon, rose etc.
Amaryllis may be acquired as bare or planted bulbs. It is advised to select the largest bulbs for planting as they are expected to produce more stalks and has higher chances of blooming the first year. The larger the bulb, the more flowers it will bear.
These grow best in narrow containers. Choose pots made of plastic, terracotta, metal or ceramic for best results.
At first, water sparingly until the stem appears, then as the buds and leaves appear, gradually water more.
Make sure to water until the potting soil is thoroughly moist. Always allow to drain completely.
The bulb should be watered when the top two inches of soil starts to feel dry, ensuring complete water drainage. Never let the plant sit in water as wet soil can promote rotting and result in pest manifestation.
After the first bloom is over, continue to water so as to promote flowering again.
Initially, the pot should be filled with new, sterile potting soil, preferably with high organic content like peat moss.
The pot must be kept in a sunny window, if indoors. Once the buds are out, it should be kept away from sunlight till it blooms.
Once the plant has finished blooming, it should be placed in the sunniest place possible indoors, so as to let it grow healthy leaves.
The plant should be protected from frost at all times. Right after the frost is over, it should be acclimatized to the sun by placing the pot in shade initially, and gradually shifting to a spot which receives at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis.
Each flower is about 5-10 cm diameter with six tepals.
The plants should be moved out of direct sunlight as soon as the flower buds start to open. Flowers are expected to develop in about 4-6 weeks from dormant bulbs.
It usually takes about two days to fully bloom from the buds.
As specified earlier, these are bulbous plants, with a typical size of about 5-10 cm (diameter). A bulb can produce one or two leafless stems that can reach up to a height of 30-60 cm, which then bears a cluster of up to twelve flowers 5-10 cm in diameter.
These plants should be fertilized moderately (for example, at half the recommended amount) each time they are watered, especially when new growth is visible. This also applies to a newly purchased bulbs. A houseplant fertilizer with high phosphorus content is recommended to enhance blooming.
Red blotch affects the appearance and health of the plants but usually isn't lethal to the plant. The leaves may become distorted and flower stalks may snap easily, affecting the overall appearance.
The disease is difficult to diagnose as superficial red patches usually appear on the exterior of healthy bulbs and it is tough to differentiate between the red blotched due to the disease.
Inspect the bulbs thoroughly before purchasing and never buy damaged bulbs or those with cankers. Always use new potting soil. Pruners used on infected plants should be cleaned using alcohol. If the disease persists, take the help of a systemic fungicide.
After the flowers have faded, cut them off so as to prevent seed formation. Seed formation takes up a lot of energy reserves in the bulb and thus can result in reduced blooming.
The flower stalk should be cut off only once it has turned yellow.
These plants don't do well in high humidity. They require moderately humid conditions and during the resting period, dry conditions are preferred.
The bulbs come in different sizes. While getting a bulb to plant or potted bulbs, the condition, and size will highly influence the performance of the plants.
Amaryllis plants are found to bloom best when they are grown in a pot with little extra space. They should be repotted every 3-4 years, the best time being when they have just undergone the dormant phase. Loosen the roots that cling inside the pot using a knife, gently tip the plant out and loosen the root ball gently before placing in the new pot.
Bulbs should have no signs of mold, decay or injury. Also, keep them dry and take care the bulbs are firm when selecting. A container with one or more holes in the bottom is preferred so as to ensure good drainage, which will minimize the possibilities of a bulb or root rot from excess moisture.
The girth of the container should be about 3 cm wider than the bulb diameter and twice as tall as the bulb for spacious root development. Place the bulb in the soil such that roots are above the soil. The bulb should sit up above the pot edge. Add soil till two-thirds or one half of the bulb gets covered.
It is preferred to set the pot in a sink so as to facilitate free drainage.
Carefully choosing the bulbs when buying through inspection, and proper care will bring down the chances of pest attack significantly.
The narcissus bulb fly may lay its eggs in the bulb when placed outdoors in summer. The maggot larvae eat the outer bulb scales and enter the interior. This may result in wilting, yellowing, distortion and finally death of the plant. The exterior might seem okay, but pressing will reveal rotting.
As the use of insecticides is ineffective in most cases, destroying the infested bulbs is the best option.
The soil should be kept well drained and only moderately wet, so as to prevent attracting fungus gnats.