While there are several flowering bulbs from which to choose, many gardeners prefer to include Amaryllis in their landscape design. Easy to grow and suitable as far north as USDA Zone 7b, amaryllis produce bold and beautiful blooms in a spectrum of colors--red, orange, pink, white, yellow, and even bi-colors.
The large bulbs produce brilliant flowers that can grow to 6 inches across on stalks that can rise 24 inches high. They will bloom year after year with little care, mostly during the months of February through April. The beautiful leaves grace your beds during spring and summer, after which the bulbs go dormant until January.
Here are six tips on growing and caring for amaryllis in your garden:
1. Grow them in partial shade
Amaryllis fares well in both sun and shade but usually does best in partial shade. Too much sun can cause leaf burn, while too much shade may inhibit flowering.
2. Amend your soil
The right type of soil is essential if you want to grow amaryllis. The bulbs prefer well-draining soil, and you can improve drainage either by building raised beds or mixing organic matter (peat or compost) into the soil. The amended soil will also give your amaryllis nutrients for healthier growth.
3. Don't crowd the bulbs
Plant your bulbs 12-15 inches apart with the top one-third of the bulb showing above the soil level. If you plant them too deeply, they will produce foliage but no flowers.
4. Keep them moist
Although established amaryllis can tolerate drought, it's better to keep them moist throughout the growing season. By adding a 2-inch layer of mulch around your plants, you will conserve moisture and discourage weed growth.
5. Thin them if necessary
If your plants become overcrowded, divide the clumps and separate them. This will help restore maximum blooming, as will a fertilizer or bone meal.
6. Prepare for dormancy
In early fall the leaves will start to turn yellow. When that happens, gradually decrease watering. Stop watering altogether when the foliage has died back. Clip off the old leaves a couple of inches above the neck of the bulb.