Plant amaryllis bulbs now for a wonderful show in summer
Plant striking amaryllis now
Belonging to the same family as clivias, agapanthus, alliums and daffodils, hippeastrums or amaryllis, as they are commonly, albeit incorrectly, known, are surprisingly easy to grow.
Wonderfully showy, they can be grown outdoors and then brought inside so you can enjoy the spectacular blooms.
New varieties have been bred with shorter, thicker stems to support the trumpet-shaped f lowers, which come in both singles and doubles. Colours vary from red to dark pink and include light pink, cream, white and green, and in some cases, have colour striations. They vary in height from 30–50cm.
Forced amaryllis are available in f lower in pots at shops and garden centres from spring to autumn, but you can easily grow them from bulbs. These are on sale in spring and early summer at nurseries or online. As they don’t need a lot of care, they’re ideal for the novice gardener.
GROW LIKE A PRO
Although more commonly used as container plants, bulbs can also be grown in f lower beds.
Choose a container at least 25cm in diameter and depth for a single bulb. They multiply within two years and become quite large. They will grow in any container or f lower bed providing they have enough light and the soil drains well.
Line the container with weed cloth to so that soil doesn’t leak out. This minimises the need for repotting.
Add two handfuls of compost to the potting soil. Never use fresh manure as this will burn the bulbs.
Plant the bulb with the top third above the soil level. The neck should always be visible.
Place in full sun or dappled shade. If grown in a pot, check the moisture level on a daily basis. While they don’t like to sit in water, the soil should always be slightly moist during the growing season.
If in beds, make sure the soil drains well. Water moderately every two to three days.
Feed them every two weeks with bulb
food during the f lowering period.
Cut off spent f lowers, and once the plant has finished f lowering, cut the stem off at the base.
The strap-like leaves remain green after f lowering and will remain like that until the end of the season. Don’t cut them off as they produce food for the bulb for the following year. Keep watering once a week.
In autumn, cut off the yellowing leaves. And in winter when plants are dormant, keep them dry. Lift the bulbs, rinse and dry them and store in perforated paper bags in a cool dark place until next spring.
If you prefer not to lift them every year, you can divide and repot them every three years. The bulbs increase in size and care should be taken when dividing them. Try to keep the roots intact and undamaged. To make this easier, soak the soil off in water. When replanting, check that the areas around the roots are filled with soil so there are no air pockets.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
If the plant develops long stems that fall over, overwatering or too much shade are the cause.
Too much water in winter can result in bulbs rotting. They need to be kept dry from June until August.
Keep a lookout for the dreaded black and yellow striped amaryllis caterpillar or lily borer. As they feed at night and hide in the day, it’s not easy to catch them. Pick them off by hand or spray with Garden Ripcord. They also attack agapanthus, clivias and liliums.
To prevent damage by snails and slugs, pick them off by hand, spray the leaves with a weak salt solution or sprinkle crushed eggshells around the plants.
Always plant fresh bulbs. Last season’s unplanted bulbs might not f lower.
Mildew and fungi are the result of poor air circulation. This happens in overplanted beds, in too much shade and in low temperatures. Spray with a fungicide.
Amaryllis Sonatini ‘Belladonna’
Amaryllis Sonatini ‘Graffiti’
Amaryllis Double Symphony ‘Ragtime’
Amaryllis Sonata ‘Dynamite’
Amaryllis Symphony ‘Razzle Dazzle’