In the garden, nature provides the variations of light and warmth that trigger plants to rest during the winter and begin growing again in the spring. Indoor plants that are too fragile to be exposed to Mother Nature’s whims need some assistance to create a sense of seasonal change.
Among these plants is the stately Amaryllis bulb (Hippeastrum). Sold as gigantic bulbs during the Christmas holidays, a thick green leaf soon pierces the soil. Leaves climb steadily upward over the weeks between Christmas and Easter. A long sturdy stalk gradually emerges from the center of the leaf mass bearing large, bulbous buds that finally unfurl into stunning, gigantic trumpets of color that herald the approach of Easter.
While a marvel to grow and truly magnificent when in bloom, the Amaryllis spends much of the year as an oddly portent leaf, either greening and growing or withering and dying. Many people move their Amaryllis plants outdoors in the early summer. Come fall, these bulbs must be brought back inside for they are too fragile to survive bitter winters.
Bulbs planted in the ground must be dug up and washed of any soil that clings to the bulb. If your plant is in a container, move the entire container indoors. Place bulbs in a cool, dry place that will not freeze, such as a basement or garage. Stop watering the plant and allow foliage to dry out naturally. After leaves collapse and turn brown, cut them from the bulb. Store bulbs in a cool, dry place for several months so they can rest.
Near the end of the December, repot your Amaryllis bulb in new potting mix and water every 3 to 4 days. As the new stem gains height, you may have to stake it to provide support.