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The beautiful amaryllis is easy to manage, display

Feb. 03, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Many folks associate the amaryllis plant with the holidays, however, they make a great display thoughout January and February.

One would think the beautiful flowers would take an enormous amount of work but they don't. They really are quite simple to manage and display. These would even be great plants for the children in a household to supervise in that once they start to produce the flowers come about very quickly.

One of the first advantages to an amaryllis showcase in January or February is that you can sometimes find the bulbs on sale after Christmas. Many times they come in a kit with the pot, soil and instructions. Some folks prefer those over the top white blooms in January and the luscious red ones in February. Whichever your choice, just remember a dormant bulb will need about six weeks to several months to mature and bloom. If this is a project for impatient children an adult might want to take care of this part until the plant starts to show signs of leafing. If you purchase a kit and the bulb is already spouting it won't take nearly as long.

The amaryllis in full bloom is a site to behold, however for all its beauty it has a hard time staying upright on its own. Plan to insert a thin stick along side the bulb to support the weight of the greenery and the blooms. One could get creative here and use tree branches or a cast off curtain rod to add a little character to the display.

South Africa is where the amaryllis originated so we know it takes a warm climate to survive. These lovely plants do well in our outside environment in the summer time and will provide lovely flowers throughout the season. Once the temperatures dip into the 50s the bulbs need to be dug up, dusted, dried and allowed to be dormant in a dark place inside for several months. Any green stems need to be clipped before allowing it to go dormant. Treat the bulb with care and it will produce blooms in the winter months as well.

After the dormant period it is a simple task to plant the bulb in the appropriate soil mix and a proper pot that allows about two inches from the bulb to the side of the pot. Water sparingly being careful not to overwater which is a common mistake often made by the budding gardener. As the blooms appear and wither clip them off and you might get an added surprise of another bloom.

Once the flower is spent and the greenery wilted, retrieve the bulb and allow it to be dormant until summer when you can again plant it in your garden. Be sure all chances of frost are over since this is a tropical plant we have highjacked for our holiday celebrations.

More detailed instructions are available on the Internet or on the side of a kit you might purchase. One might consider buying several to plant in a grouping. They could make a lovely display in the center of a kitchen table and what fun everyone will have watching them grow and bloom.