SEMINOLE COUNTY RESIDENTIAL HORTICULTURIST
The Amaryllis is a spring flowering bulb which produces large lily or bell-shaped flowers which may be red, pink, crimson, or white, often striped, mottled or blended with shades of these colors. The plant is native of South America and South Africa. Amaryllis is used in beds or borders around home grounds as well as for individual specimens.
Culture: Amaryllis prefers a location with partial shade and good, well drained soil. Before planting, the ground should be prepared with 1 1/2 lbs. of 6-6-6 per 100 sq. ft. Established plantings may be fertilized 2 or 3 times a year with 1 lb. of 6-6-6 per 100 sq. ft. Unlike some other bulbs, Amaryllis do not need to be dug up each year. Digging may be helpful, however, since offsets can be separated and replanted elsewhere and diseased bulbs can be removed and destroyed.
Flowering: Bulbs of Amaryllis should be planted so that they will bloom in the spring. Planting over a period from November to February will insure a succession of blooms from March to May. Four flowers are usually borne on a spike. A pair of the flowers open up first with the remaining pair opening a few days later, providing a bloom period from 10 to 14 days. Amaryllis can be forced to bloom in 6 to 8 weeks in your home at any time of the year. To accomplish that, the bulbs should be planted with one-half to two-thirds of the bulb above the soil level to induce early flowering. Gardeners who try Amaryllis sometimes run into a problem with the plants failing to bloom. The lack of flowers can be caused by several factors, such as prolonged drying of the bulbs, digging the bulbs before they are mature, too much shade, or too high levels of nitrogen in the soil.
Asexual propagation: It is relatively easy to propagate Amaryllis by cuttings or offsets. Cuttings and offsets will produce plants that are identical to the mother plant. Offsets are produced naturally by the plant and may be dug up each year after the plants have died down. These offsets should be set off in a bed by themselves since it will generally take two or three years before they attain flowering size. When the plants are dug, cut off the leaves about 1 1/2 inches above the top of the bulb and cut back the roots to within two inches from the bulb. Plants can be produced from bulb pieces, as many as 60 pieces may be cut from one bulb, as long as each piece has a portion of the stem tissue or basal plate of the bulb attached to the scales. Bulbs cut immediately after flowering in the spring usually yields poor propagating materials. Full grown plants should be used for propagation; cuttings made from July to November usually produce the best plants.
Sexual propagation: The seed pods develop within 4 to 5 weeks after pollination and should be picked as soon as they turn yellow and star to break open. The seed is then removed from the pod, allowed to dry for a few days and then planted in flats of a well-drained soil. The young plants should be grown in increasingly higher light levels until they are receiving full sunlight. Plants should be ready for planting out in the garden in about one year.
Pests and diseases: Amaryllis plants rarely have serious pests or disease problems. Grasshoppers occasionally produce some damage on this plant. Another insect pest is the Spanish moth caterpillar, with black and white bands, which can cause some damage by chewing on the leaves and stems.
The disease known as "red-blotch" or "leaf scorch" occurs commonly on Amaryllis. The fungus produces red spots on the leaves, flowers, stems and petals. Dark reddish brown spots may appear on the bulbs and produce large rotted areas. Badly infected bulbs should be destroyed. Copper fungicides are recommended to control this disease. Amaryllis can be infected with a virus disease called mosaic which causes yellow mottling and red streaking on the leaves. There is no control for this disease, affected plants should be removed from the field and destroyed.
All Seminole County Extension Services are Open to all Regardless of Race, Color, Sex, Handicap or National Origin.