Lovely to give as well as receive, Amaryllis are the quintessential holiday blossom. This season, consider a few of the lesser-known varieties, including Amaryllis ‘Chico,’ ‘Elvas,’ and ‘Magic Green -- all favorites of John Rapini, Greenhouse Manager at PHS Meadowbrook Farm.
“’My personal favorite is ‘Chico’,” says Rapini. “Its wispy petals, in burgundy and green, curve backwards to form an unusual composition. It’s really rare to see this petal formation,” he explains. Flowers will last up to two weeks and can be prolonged if you move the plant to a slightly cooler area. Another option is to plant more than one bulb in a pot. If you have a very large pot, you can plant up to a dozen or more. “This will give you more show,” says Rapini. “When one dies off, just remove the stem and enjoy the others.”
Another to try is ‘Elvas,’ with a white and pink double blossom. “It’s much bolder than ‘Chico,’” says Rapini, “and has larger, whorled center petals that are intricately layered to create a double flower.”
Another Amaryllis, ‘Magic Green,’ (right) will add show-stopping beauty to your home. With its light green petals and reddish-burgundy margins, this flower appears to have brush strokes of color.
Find these bulbs, along with others, online. Rapini suggests websites such as Shopterrain.com or Brent and Becky’s. Purchase potting soil and pots that are deep enough to plant the bulbs several inches from the surface. The bulbs can take between two and six weeks to begin growing. While some bulbs come pre-planted, the more unusual varieties are rarely available pre-planted. Amaryllis bulbs sold in a wax coating don’t require planting in soil but will only flower for one season. Amaryllis require as much light as possible, so finding them a spot on one of your brightest windowsills is best. “If they’re in too low of a light, the flower stem will get too tall and topple, and you may have to stake it,” says Rapini. Water your amaryllis regularly, but only when the top inch of soil is dry.
Keep bulbs growing through the summer months if you want to reuse them next year. Once the frost has passed, place them outside in their pots in a partly sunny location. “The bulb will produce leaves,” says Rapini, “and the leaves are what make the energy for it to flower the next season.” The leaves will grow through summer, and into the fall, but the frost will make them brittle. Bring bulbs inside just before the first frost (before you turn on your heater at home!), remove them from the soil, cut the leaves off, and store your bulbs in a cool place for eight to ten weeks. Then repot them for another season of beauty.
These easy-care instructions allow you to enjoy the beauty of Amaryllis all year long. “If your bulbs are receiving good care and allowed to grow and store up energy, you can get several flowering seasons out of them,” says Rapini.